100K Demand Ever Lopez Be Given Diploma He Was Denied For Wearing Mexican Flag at Graduation

A petition urging a North Carolina school officials to give a graduating senior the diploma he was denied for draping a Mexican flag over his gown during graduation has amassed more than 100,000 signatures.

A viral video of Asheboro High School's graduation last Thursday showed Ever Lopez, 18, walking across the stage with the flag over his back and shoulders.

But when he reached his principal, a line of students is seen forming behind him as she reportedly refused to hand over his diploma.

The school involved has told Newsweek that the diploma is available for Lopez to collect and said it had made "multiple attempts," unsuccessfully, to reach the family.

My Twitter people make this go viral. Principle “Mrs. Penny Crooks” denied my cousin his diploma for causing a “disturbance” to the graduation ceremony. pic.twitter.com/7HfKzNGdJ3

— ♔ Adolfo Hurtado ♕ (@dolfoohurtado) June 4, 2021

"I did it for my family. They came over here to give me a better future," Lopez told the Courier-Tribune after the ceremony.

Lopez said that he put the flag over his shoulders while he was seated near teachers, but said he was not confronted about the flag until he reached his principal. He said he was told the flag was a distraction.

But in two statements released last Friday, Asheboro school officials defended the decision to withhold Lopez's diploma and said wearing a flag of any kind violates the ceremony's dress code.

The move sparked an uproar in the community and on social media, with supporters gathering outside the school on Friday brandishing signs saying "Free Ever's Diploma" and "honk if you're not racist!"

Meanwhile, a Change petition called "Give this man is diploma" was launched on Friday and has already garnered more than 100,000 signatures.

"Ever Lopez was wearing a Mexican flag during his graduation and didn't receive his diploma," the petition stated. "This is unacceptable, this man worked his butt off for HIS diploma."

Leigh Anna Marbert, public information officer for Asheboro City Schools, told Newsweek on Monday that Lopez's diploma has been available to be picked up since Friday.

"Our team has made multiple attempts to reach the family in order to arrange this. Unfortunately, we've received no response," Marbert said.

In a statement released on Friday afternoon, Asheboro City Schools maintained the incident was "not about the Mexican flag."

"The heart of the issue is the fact that the student did not follow the established dress code for the event and detracted from the importance and the solemnity of the ceremony," it said. "Our dress code is in place to ensure the dignity of the event is upheld and is fair to all students."

An earlier statement said: "Our graduation dress code is clearly shared with students ahead of time, and the wearing of a flag of any kind is a violation of the dress code."

But according to the Courier-Tribune, an email sent by Principal Penny Crooks to students about graduation attire outlined the dress code, and said clothing should meet the school district's dress code policy. Neither the email nor the policy mention the wearing of flags.

Ever Lopez graduation pic
Ever Lopez is seen with a Mexican flag draped over his gown at Asheboro High School's graduation. Asheboro High School

Video footage from the graduation showed a student wore the Mexican flag on a mortarboard.

"We are very clear with students that this was the ONLY acceptable deviation from the standard cap and gown regalia," the school district's statement said. "Unfortunately, we will now be reevaluating that decision for future senior classes in light of the situation that occurred last night."

In the statement, officials said they "continue working to resolve this issue with the student and his family so that he will receive his diploma from Asheboro High School.

"He has worked very hard and we commend him on this great achievement. We are confident in his abilities and we know he has a bright future ahead of him."

Lopez and Principal Crooks have been contacted for further comment.

Update 7/6 7.21 a.m. ET: This article has been updated with a comment from a spokesperson for Asheboro City Schools.