A high school student claims she has been fined $1,000 and had her diploma withheld for wearing an eagle feather in her graduation cap as a symbol of her Native American heritage.
Chelsey Ramer, 17, from Alabama, is a member of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, and wanted to wear the feather to show her pride in her culture. However, she says Escambia Academy High School forbade her from wearing the feather and then refused to give her the diploma when she broke the rules.
Now, the teenager says she has been told she cannot pick up the certificate until she pays the fine imposed by the private school. Miss Ramer told the Indian Country Today Media Network that she was ‘excited’ about the ceremony on May 23 but has been left dismayed by her school’s reaction. She was warned she would be pulled out of the ceremony if she wore the feather but instead was refused her diploma afterwards.
She said: ‘I feel like this wasn’t fair. It felt like it wasn’t legal. ‘It really did hurt my feelings. I have watched others wear it and I looked forward to it my whole four years there. Now when it was my turn, [they said]I couldn’t.’
The teenager believes the refusal is ‘discrimination’. She said repeated requests from herself and her tribal teacher, as well as other Indian seniors, were turned down.
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