AMITE, La. — A Louisiana high school valedictorian reportedly was banned from participating in his graduation ceremony because of his facial hair.
According to WVUE, straight-A student and star athlete Andrew Jones of Amite, Louisiana, was scheduled to speak at Amite High School’s graduation Wednesday. But when Jones, who also was named Student of the Year, arrived, officials barred him from the ceremony because he hadn’t shaved his goatee.
Tangipahoa Schools Superintendent Mark Kolwe told ABC News that the district “has a policy that does not allow any facial hair on male students.”
“This young man was given at least three opportunities,” Kolwe said.
“I personally asked him to please go and shave so that he can walk with the other kids. He chose not to. I even asked the parents standing here to have him follow the policy.”
Jones told WVUE that the rules were confusing and that he had worn facial hair all four years of high school without any complaints from administrators.
“I feel they should have let me march,” he said. “The hair on my face has nothing to do with school. I wasn’t distracting anybody.”
Supporters of Jones – including the local NAACP – will participate in a rally Monday to protest the decision.