Wednesday , May 22 2024

Clovis Student Sues Over Right to Wear Feather at Graduation

A senior at Clovis High School plans to take the district to court because he wants to wear an eagle feather in his cap at graduation.

Christian Titman is an American Indian. He says the district won’t allow him to wear an eagle feather during graduation ceremonies this week.

This is the type of feather, an eagle feather, that Christian Titman would like to have on his cap at graduation.

"An eagle is sacred because it flies with our creators," Christian said.

His father will give Christian the feather to acknowledge his achievement in graduating from high school.

"He worked for it, he earned this," Christian’s father, Garrisson Titman, said.

"I was deemed as a senior who would not graduate this year because I was far behind on credits. I was able to get 60 credits in one semester so I can graduate on time," Christian said.

Clovis Unified has a strict dress code at all of their schools. Neutral, so each student is on equal footing.
They offered Christian and his parents a compromise. Christian would receive the feather when he received his diploma.

"And when we did what’s called the tassel turn where students move the tassel from one side of the mortar board to the other as a symbol of their graduation, he would be able to have the eagle feather prominently displayed at that point in time," Kelly Avants with Clovis Unified School District said.

But Christian says, it’s not enough. His family has joined with the ACLU to take Clovis Unified to court.

"I’m not doing this for myself, I’m doing this for everybody that’s going to come behind me and run into this fight of having the eagle feather," Christian said.

Other parents we spoke with said, yes, Clovis Unified has strict standards. But they have seen the district work with students and families.

"Every year we receive surveys asking if the requirements are too strict. And I’ve pretty much stuck with them and our school has always made accommodations for cultural and religious differences," said Clovis Unified parent Kimberly Selepec, whose children attend Jefferson Elementary School.

Clovis Unified has been told the ACLU will file suit on Tuesday.
Graduation at Clovis High School is Thursday.

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