Lillian White San Antonio, Texas art teacher at Great Hearts Western Hills, fired for refusing to stop wearing BLM face mask at charter school.
Should educators/workers be allowed to override school/work mandates that discourage bringing politics to campus/place of work?
Lillian White, an art teacher at Great Hearts Western Hills, a public charter school in San Antonio, was fired on September 5 after declining to accede to school official demands that she stop wearing the ‘political’ mask.
Written on one side of White’s mask were the words ‘Black Lives Matter’ along with the phrase, ‘Silence is Violence’ on the other side.
White, who said she started wearing the mask to show her support for black students and faculty, told CNN that no students were on campus during the in-person workdays over the summer.
Fired for offending the unspoken politics of students parents?
White said that her first warning came two weeks after she began wearing the mask.
‘Hey can you start bringing a different mask on campus? We don’t discuss the current political climate on campus. Parents will start coming around more now,’ Heather Molder, the school’s assistant headmaster, wrote in a text message to White, according to CNN.
White, who has been an educator for 10 years said that she ‘immediately’ knew it was time to make a decision.
‘This is a human rights issue and I did it for my students who experience racial injustice in school. I refused to back down,’ White told CNN.
‘If you’re scared about what parents are going to say because a teacher is supporting equal rights, you need to reevaluate the kind of people you’re catering to. By staying silent, Great Hearts is only supporting racist parents.’
White spent a month speaking to officials about the matter, but she was fired on September 5 just days before students returned to campus.
She says she was told that her termination was a result of her refusing to wear a different mask.
‘We stand with the Black community and all who are suffering’
In a statement, Great Hearts Texas Superintendent Daniel Scoggin explained that the school’s policy forbids faculty from displaying messages on their face masks.
‘We stand with the Black community and all who are suffering. Great Hearts deplores bigotry and its crushing effects on all those subjected to it,’ Scoggin told CNN.
Adding, ‘Great Hearts is committed to an America where racism, violence, and injustice do not happen, because such acts find no home in the hearts of a great people,’
Following her termination, White started a Change.org petition that demands Great Hearts ‘implement an anti-racism action plan’.
The petition has been signed by more than 3,200 people as of Sunday morning.
The educator’s firing led to some social media commentators wondering whether White would have been fired for supporting other causes beyond BLM and whether the cause itself was implicitly understood to be unpalatable to the parents of students who attend the private charter school in Texas.