LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A desire to express their identity and cultural background. Some students are asking the Clark County School District to modify its graduation dress code to allow items that express their culture, heritage, or identity.
"Students have worked hard and diligently for four years to reach a special day, and we should represent our communities as this is a great achievement for them."
At Thursday's CCSD school board meeting, students from Rancho High School asked for a dress code change. Senior Marysol Rodriguez told trustees she and other seniors want to be allowed to wear items honoring their heritage, culture, and identity at their upcoming graduations.
"It means a lot to me to walk across this stage, not only for my loved ones but for my community to see how much I've grown as a person,” she said.
Rodriguez wants to wear a stole honoring her Hispanic heritage. Her classmate Evan Robinson agrees. He wants to express his identity as a gay Black man by being able to wear rainbow cords or stoles.
"Being able to walk across that stage wearing that stuff, I can be that representation for someone that never had that,” he said.
Currently, district graduation policy doesn't allow any jewels or decorations, or other items that aren't issued by a high school. However, CCSD in a statement to Channel 13 Friday says items earned through school clubs, activities, or programs should be allowed saying in part:
"The focus should remain on the purpose of a graduation ceremony which is to celebrate students who have successfully met the academic and extracurricular requirements for graduation."
But the students believe it’s still too limiting. They will continue gathering signatures on their petition which now has nearly 230 Rancho High seniors joining the call.
"People want this and it's not just two or three TikTok seniors. This is something the senior class at Rancho High School and senior classes really want,” Robinson said.
Rodriguez says she's okay with school administrators signing off on the personal items to address any bad-faith actors.
"Each item will be reviewed to make sure it's not inappropriate or distasteful,” she said.
Both students hope the change will be permanent.
"When you advocate for yourself, you advocate for everybody else,” Rodriguez said.
Trustees were unable to address the student's public comments Thursday as it was a non-agenda item. The next school board meeting does have an item on changing the district's dress code. That's next Thursday.