SAN ANTONIO, TX -- A San Antonio art teacher was fired after she refused to stop wearing a face mask that read Black Lives Matter.
According to Lillian White, she has been an educator for ten years and was about to begin her second year at Great Hearts Western Hills. She was fired days before school began.
"It was really stressful because I have a financial obligation to help support my family,” said White. “It’s also kind of heartbreaking that this is the kind of – this is the reason that I lost my job.”
Back in July, White began attending weekly in-person training sessions wearing a homemade mask. The mask featured the words "Black Lives Matter” and “Silence is Violence.”
“For about a week and a half I was wearing these masks and no one said anything," said White. "A couple of the other teachers came up and asked for some if I had any extras and I made them some."
During one Friday the art teachers received a text from the assistant principal.
According to White, the text shared the following message: "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 continued to wear the mask even though she was told multiple times to desist. According to White, she is committed to the cause.
“This is human rights and it should be something that is promoted at our school," said White. "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."
When reached for comment, the school provided the following statement from Superintendent Daniel Scoggin.
"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 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.”
According to White, she has continued her search for new employment and has received a mix of support and dissent after sharing her story online. But she says she will continue to fight for what she believes in.
“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," said White.