Black Valedictorian Says He Was Banned from Graduation Ceremony for Refusing to Shave Beard

A Louisiana teen who graduated at the top of his class says he didn’t get to enjoy his graduation ceremony and the reason why may surprise you.

Amite High School student Andrew Jones was named valedictorian of the 2016 graduating class, but he missed out on the official ceremony after refusing to comply with a questionable school rule that forbids students to have facial hair. Jones tells the New York Daily News that he and 13 other students were told by school officials that they had to shave their facial hair in order to participate in the ceremony upon arriving to their graduation on Wednesday evening. Andrew, who says he’s had his goatee for the duration of his four years at the school, refused to shave after noting that the rule had not been enforced any other time. As a result of his refusal, his cap and gown were taken away.

Andrew completed high school with a 4.0 GPA and was even set to give an address at the graduation ceremony, but he says despite the consequences, he stands by his decision.

The NAACP has since become involved with the incident, and local chapter president Patricia Morris says they believe there is more to the story behind why the rule was so strictly enforced upon some students but not others. She also noted the school district’s alleged history with unequal treatment of Black and white students.

A protest against the school district is reportedly being planned for Monday in light of the incident.

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