Lillian White, a 10-year career educational professional, was fired for the message depicted on her face covering, KENS5 reported. She was let go from her position before school returned. The mask was worn to mandatory in-person training and development sessions for employees of Great Hearts Western Hills.
“For about a week and a half I was wearing these masks and no one said anything. A couple of the other teachers came up and asked for some if I had any extras and I made them some,” White said according to the news outlet.
Although she earned inquiries from her peers, the teacher later received a text message from administration that stated otherwise.
“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,” the message from the assistant principal read.
The request for her to stop did not receive compliance. White continued to wear the homemade masks, some said “Black Lives Matter,” and others said “Silence is Violence.”
“This is human rights and it should be something that is promoted at our school. 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,” the teacher told KENS5.
Before her termination, White was set to begin her second year as an art teacher at the charter school. According to the news report, her firing was justified by school policy. In a statement provided to KENS5, school officials issued a rule amid the coronavirus pandemic that masks worn by employees must not share external messages.
“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,” said the statement.
Authored by Great Hearts Texas Superintendent, Daniel Scoggin, the memo continued to offer support to the Black community despite firing White for her mask.
“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.”
Still, White faced backlash for her non-vocal statement and now must find another job.
“It was really stressful because I have a financial obligation to help support my family,” White said. “It’s also kind of heartbreaking that this is the kind of – this is the reason that I lost my job,” she remarked to KENS5.