LOS ANGELES – A federal court has refused to temporarily block a Colorado school district’s rule that bars a student from wearing a sash honoring her Mexican American heritage.

Villasano had been asking the school district since April to be allowed to wear the sash which depicts both the Mexican and U.S. flags and was a gift from a relative. The school district turned her down even though the rules allow some students to wear regalia celebrating their heritage or service at graduation. The ceremony is being held Saturday, May 27.

Please attribute the following statement to Kenneth Parreno, Staff Attorney MALDEF staff attorney:

“Although today's ruling does not grant Naomi the relief she sought, it does not change the bedrock principle that students have constitutional rights to freedom of speech and expression.  Naomi and MALDEF will continue to fight to protect the First Amendment rights of students to express and celebrate their Latino culture and heritage.”

Please attribute the following statement to Jennifer H. Weddle, Principal Shareholder, Co-Chair American Indian Law Practice Group Greenberg Traurig, LLP:

“Greenberg Traurig will be honored to continue to stand with MALDEF in seeking to protect student speech honoring their cultural heritage and will work to change both policy in Garfield County and more broadly in Colorado so that Mexican American students can honor their culture just as Native American, Pacific Islander and students entering the military may do. It should not make a difference if a sash bears the seal of a tribal nation or the seal of Mexico which itself commemorates the Aztec capital.  It should not matter if a flag appears on a mortar bard or 18 inches below it on a sash or scrunched and fashioned into a lei.  Naomi’s efforts in this case were about positivity and patriotism and pride in the duality of her cultural identity.  It is simply wrong that the Garfield Country School District #16 is not allowing this courageous young woman to express her whole self.  We firmly believe Naomi will do so after graduation and look forward to seeing the change she will make in the world.”

Please attribute the following statement to Naomi Peña Villasano:

“I’m at a loss of words over the decision that the judge issued today. My high school graduation is an important occasion that I want to celebrate with my family and I am incredibly saddened that I cannot celebrate it with my family the way I want to.”

Read the ruling here.