End Policy That Barred Valedictorian From Marching at Graduation

Target: Tangipahoa Parish School System superintendent Mark Kolwe

Goal: End a ban on facial hair after the school valedictorian was barred from walking and speaking at his graduation ceremony.

A high school valedictorian was stopped from marching at graduation at the last minute because of his beard. The school officials told him he had to shave to be allowed to walk, and when he refused, he was prevented even from making the traditional valedictorian speech. It’s ridiculous that this young man, Andrew Jones, was denied this honor just because he had a small amount of facial hair after working so hard throughout high school.

Amite High School does have a stated policy that facial hair is not permitted, but it was apparently not enforced until the day of graduation. It makes no sense to allow facial hair up until when banning it would cause the most harm. Mr. Jones will never have the chance to march at high school graduation again. It’s also a highly discriminatory policy to begin with as facial hair can have personal and religious significance to an individual.

The Tangipahoa Parish School System superintendent Mark Kolwe says that he had “no choice” but to enforce the policy as long as it still existed, but everyone has a choice about whether to enforce pointless, unfair rules. Sign our petition to demand that the superintendent apologizes to Mr. Jones and immediately acts to remove this discriminatory policy against facial hair.


Dear Superintendent Kolwe,

Recently, a young man from Amite High School was barred from marching at his graduation, as well as giving the valedictorian speech that he was going to be granted for all of his incredible hard work. Mr. Andrew Jones was denied all of this just because he had a little facial hair.

It’s my understanding that Jones had the facial hair on graduation day because the school’s policy against facial hair was not enforced during the year. It’s also discriminatory to have a policy like this in the first place due to the fact that facial hair can have personal and religious significance. It’s Islamophobic and antisemitic to enforce policies like this.

You claimed that you had no choice but to enforce this policy on graduation day, but I think we both know this isn’t true. You had a choice about whether or not to take that young man’s only chance to walk at his high school graduation and his chance to be honored as valedictorian over a little beard. We demand that you issue a public apology to Mr. Jones and immediately ensure that the policy against facial hair is removed.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: John Walker

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