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TUSD votes unanimously: Native American students can wear cultural regalia

'this means everything'
Posted at 5:38 PM, Mar 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-27 02:20:56-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — Tucson Unified School District voted unanimously to allow Native American students to wear cultural regalia at their high school graduation.

The idea first come to the board from high school senior Lourdes Pereria, a Native American student who wanted to be able to wear cultural regalia to her may graduation.

"I felt angry," Pereria said. "As a senior in high school, and I'm dealing with different things, a job and college and such, and I have to come to my board and ask them to give me permission to express my culture.”

However, once the board heard her idea, she said they were very understanding in seeing her point. They spent the next months working the language to find a way to allow this to pass.

The board voted in December for a temporary revision on the district's policy to allow Native American students to wear their cultural regalia for their December Graduation.

They said in December they would plan to revise the issue again for May Graduation in the hope of making it more specific.

In the meeting Tuesday night, the board finally got the chance to revise the issue.

"There was just a lot of energy on this board to make this document right for the community, so I apologize for the many, many attachments but there was a lot of enthusiasm to do it the right way," board member Kristel Ann Foster said in the meeting.

The board proceeded to make the vote, with no one on the board objecting.

Pereria sat in the crowd, among her family and peers, wearing her graduation dress. The moment they made the announcement, she said, couldn't be put into words.

“This means everything. I think it’s just overwhelming to me because it was a battle,” Pereria said. "“I feel amazing, I have no words right now.”

All the persists and emails she wrote to the board, was so her younger sisters and Native American students would never feel forgotten.

"For them to know that they are recognized and for them to know that they don’t have to be afraid to hide who they are,” Pereria said.

The new agenda can be found here.