A former charter school teacher in Texas says she was fired because she continued wearing masks with phrases such as “Black Lives Matter” after the school administration told her to stop, KENS reports.
“It was really stressful because I have a financial obligation to help support my family,” the teacher, Lillian White, told the local news station. “It’s also kind of heartbreaking that this is the kind of – this is the reason that I lost my job.”
White said she began wearing the activist masks at training sessions in July, and that other teachers asked her if she had any extras they could borrow, so she made them some. White said she eventually got a text message from the assistant principal, telling her to stop wearing the masks with political slogans.
“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 the text message said.
She was an art teacher at Great Hearts Western Hills. The school said it wouldn’t comment on personnel changes at the school, but that the school decided the face mask policy July 17th, and the board approved it July 29th.
“Great Hearts enacted, in this unprecedented pandemic environment, a policy that face coverings have no external messages,” Daniel Scoggin, Great Hearts Texas Superintendent, said in a statement. “This policy was authored by school leaders and teachers in service to the learning environment of our classrooms.”
The exact policy says face masks “may be solid color or patterned but must be without verbal or visual symbolism or reference to elements of popular culture including decorative brand logos.”
The school also said that it stands with the Black community at this time.
“Great Hearts was founded and exists today to serve the innate dignity and worth of every human being,” Scoggin said in his statement. “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.”
Some public school systems, like in Buffalo, New York, have started incorporating the Black Lives Matter movement into their curriculum, which has led to some controversy. One charter school teacher in Los Angeles told KCAL she received death threats after wearing a shirt to school that said “I can’t breathe,” a rallying cry of the Black Lives Matter movement.