Allow BFHS Seniors to Wear Identity-Specific Stoles at Graduation

Allow BFHS Seniors to Wear Identity-Specific Stoles at Graduation

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Petition to
Head of School Dr. Patrick Widhalm and

Why this petition matters

Headquartered in Bulbancha on Chahta Yakni and Chitimacha land (New Orleans, Louisiana), Better Future Program's mission is to build a better and brighter global future for marginalized youth through education, awareness, and unity. To fulfill this goal, BFP is officially partnering with the Black Culture Club of Benjamin Franklin High School to realize the right of marginalized students to wear identity-specific stoles during their graduation ceremonies from the 2021-2022 school year and onward.

The administration of BFHS has claimed that kente stoles and similar adornments are distracting to the academic proponent of graduation ceremonies. As argued by Kayla Robertson (she/her), President of Black Culture Club, "Franklin has traditionally prided itself in its championing of diversity and inclusivity. Graduation is a watershed moment for many, but for our students of color, it is also a celebration of identity. The kente cloth that students wish to wear as they receive their diploma carries a deep historical significance, representing our pride in our ancestral heritage and our triumph over the struggles of displacement."

This is more than just a simple patterned cloth, but a way for Black students to pay homage to all that they have undergone. How is recognition of such an achievement any more distracting than the braided cords of the honor roll or various medals? If anything, it should add to the overall commemoration! 

Continuing, Robertson writes that not only should Black Culture Club members be allowed to wear kente stoles, but "that all identity clubs [such as the Gender Sexuality Alliance and the Asian Pacific Club] should be allowed for their members to wear stoles at graduation."

She concludes, "Many students dedicate themselves wholeheartedly to a club, and that effort to diversify and enliven our school should be honored and celebrated."

Better Future Program fully endorses the proposal of Black Culture Club and its president to the administration of Benjamin Franklin High School. If you are a BFHS student, please sign this petition to provide these seniors with even further support and to ensure that you are able to do the same upon your own graduation day. To non-BFHS students and community members looking to support our cause, please share. 

Thank you.

842 have signed. Let’s get to 1,000!