Graduate seeks court order to don eagle feather

2015-06-02 21:03
Black Graduation Cap with Degree Isolated on White Background from Shutterstock

Black Graduation Cap with Degree Isolated on White Background from Shutterstock (Mega Pixel)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories


Khloe Kardashian wears Native American headress, and social media goes crazy

2014-06-23 11:08

Khloe Kardashian posted a photo of herself wearing a traditional Native American head dress to Instagram which offended some people on social media. Find out why people are so offended. Watch.WATCH

San Francisco - A Native American student who sued his California school district because it is refusing to let him wear an eagle feather to his high school graduation will ask a judge for an order permitting the sacred item.

Christian Titman's lawyers were expected to argue in court on Tuesday that the student's rights to freedom of expression and religion in the state constitution are being violated.

Titman, 18, a member of the Pit River Tribe, said he wants to attach the 13cm feather he received from his father to the tassel on his cap at the Clovis High School ceremony set for Thursday.

He wants to mark his achievement and honour his Native American heritage, according to the lawsuit filed in state court on Monday. The tribe considers eagle feathers sacred and symbolic of a significant accomplishment.

"The district's refusal to allow a small symbol of religious expression during the graduation ceremony is a misunderstanding of both the spirit and the letter of the law," said Novella Coleman, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, one of the groups representing Titman.

"The implication that an eagle feather with religious significance is unacceptable or disruptive signals a deep disrespect from the district."

A call to the district was not immediately returned.

Strict graduation dress code

In a letter to Titman's attorneys, Superintendent Janet Young said the district has a strict graduation dress code intended to show "respect for the formality of the graduation ceremony, unity of the graduating class, and also to avoid disruption of the graduation ceremonies that would likely occur if students were allowed to alter or add on to their graduation cap and gown".

The district has previously refused to allow stoles, leis, rosaries and necklaces on graduation caps and gowns, and its dress code is neutral to any religion, Young said. Titman could wear the eagle feather after the ceremony and take photos with the principal, she said.

The US Supreme Court has held that under the US Constitution, governments don't have to make exceptions to religiously neutral laws that are applied generally, but the issue has not been resolved by the California Supreme Court under the state's constitution, said Aaron Caplan, a constitutional law expert at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.

The California Constitution guarantees free exercise and enjoyment of religion, but not if it would lead to actions that are "licentious" or inconsistent with peace or safety. That would seem to favour Titman's argument that he has a right to wear the eagle feather, Caplan said.

Titman also wants a declaration that the district cannot prohibit religious symbols or insignia at the ceremony.

Read more on:    us  |  culture

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.