CHICAGO – State Rep. Aarón Ortíz, D-Chicago, is expanding opportunities for personal expression in graduation ceremonies and attire through a new bill.
“Every student has a right to celebrate their personal and familial heritage when they receive their high school diploma,” Ortíz said. “These young people are proud of who they are and where they come from. Unfortunately, many minority students have been barred from honoring their heritage and families during such a celebratory time. This legislation changes that and allows these students to show their pride in who they are and where they come from.”
Ortíz’s House Bill 2469 prohibits a school’s dress code from outlawing graduation attire that reflects a cultural, ethnic, or protected identity characteristic. The Human Rights Act outlines a protected characteristic as race, religion, sex, ancestry, sexual orientation, disability among others. Currently, school boards and councils adopt dress codes that would apply to graduation attire.
This bill now moves to the Senate.
Ortíz has long supported minority students in the classroom. He passed House Bill 3281 which amends the school code to include coursework on the naturalization process, allowing every student to learn about what it takes for the people in their community to become a citizen.
“Children of Mexican or Latin American immigrants have often faced pushback for wearing flags, decorating their caps,” Ortíz said. “School districts have forced Black students for traditional African colors, symbols, or designs as well. This is a problem throughout our state, so we moved to change that. I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues to make sure every student can celebrate their background on their special day.”