Elias Velazquez, an Army-bound California high school senior, revealed that his Redlands High School is not allowing him to wear his Army sash with his commencement robes when he graduates on Friday.
Claiming that the school's policy prohibits the decoration of graduation gowns save for California Scholarship Federation chords and sashes, Velazquez voiced his disappointment to KTTV on Thursday.
“It means something really honorable to me, it’s a whole new life transition to me,” Velazquez said.
Velazquez's father, Joe, added, “It’s kind of defeating the purpose of achieving that greatness. We push our kids to strive and try to be better and do the best they can and then we tell them at their grad ceremony, ‘We need you all to be the same because we don’t want to hurt anyone else’s feelings.'”
Joe noted that though his son is graduating and the school refuses to change their position, he wants to change the rules so that future graduating classes can wear their pride with their commencement gowns and mortarboards.
“We’re simply trying to open some community dialogue and get people to understand some rules are okay to change,” Joe said.
The Redlands School District, according to KTTV, claimed that the reason behind not allowing students to wear their military sashes has nothing to do with the military, and all to do with allowing the students to have equal footing on graduation day.
A spokesperson for the district said, “We are totally supportive of our men and women in the military. This has nothing to do with a lack of our support.”