SAN ANTONIO — A former charter school teacher in Texas said she was fired for refusing to stop wearing a Black Lives Matter face mask at the school.
Lillian White, an art teacher at Great Hearts Western Hills in San Antonio, said she was terminated from her job, a week before students were set to return to class, KENS-TV reported.
“It was really stressful because I have a financial obligation to help support my family,” White told the television station. “It’s also kind of heartbreaking that this is the kind of -- this is the reason that I lost my job.”
White, a 10-year veteran in the education field, said she began attending weekly in-person training sessions at the charter school in July. She wore homemade masks printed with the sayings, “Black Lives Matter” and “Silence is Violence,” KENS reported.
“For about a week and a half I was wearing these masks and no one said anything," White told the television station. “A couple of the other teachers came up and asked for some if I had any extras and I made them some.”
White said she received a text message from the school’s assistant principal, asking her to stop wearing the masks.
"(The text said) ‘We’d like you to stop wearing these masks anymore, parents will be coming around more and we don’t discuss the current political climate,’” White told KENS.
White said she continued to wear the mask, adding that she was committed to the BLM movement. That led to her termination, the television station reported.
“This is human rights and it should be something that is promoted at our school," White said. “It’s an excuse to not talk about it by saying this is politics, talk about it on your own time. It’s just an excuse because they’re uncomfortable with the conversation.”
Great Hearts Texas, which operates charter schools in Texas and Arizona, emailed a comment to KENS.
“Great Hearts respects the privacy of all current and former employees and as a result does not issue public comment on specific personnel matters. On the question related to face coverings, Great Hearts enacted, in this unprecedented pandemic environment, a policy that face coverings have no external messages. This policy was authored by school leaders and teachers in service to the learning environment of our classrooms,” Great Hearts Texas Superintendent Daniel Scoggin said in the statement. “Great Hearts was founded and exists today to serve the innate dignity and worth of every human being. 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. 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.”
White said reaction to her stand has been mixed, but she is not backing down.
“I’m still trying to get them to enact some kind of anti-racism action plan so even though I don’t teach there anymore, I think that all this backlash, especially the negativity from parents and the fact that I was fired because of this, means that this is a conversation they still need to have,” White told KENS.
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