Latrell Davis, a 17-year-old senior at Cardinal Hayes High School in Bronx, New York, has been banned from attending his graduation ceremony after he said “f*** Jesus” during Mass on May 12.
Davis’ mother, Ebony Martin, claims her son repeated the phrase when he heard another student say it. She didn’t defend her son when his original punishment was handed down — he was banned from senior activities including prom, senior brunch and senior Mass.
"He told me what happened," Martin told DNA Info. "I’m like, well, that was dumb on your end, so this is the punishment that you get."
However, when the school decided Davis couldn’t attend his graduation ceremony at St. Patrick's Cathedral, she was upset. The school had already doled out a punishment and Davis’ graduation was significant for his mother. "I was a teen mom. I didn’t go to my own graduation, so I want to be proud to see my son graduate because he’s labeled as a statistic," she said. "Coming from an African-American teen mother, the odds were really against him.”
Davis said he repeated the phrase because he was surprised by the sentiment and thought he might get a laugh from his friends. "When I passed the auditorium door, I heard someone say, 'F Jesus,'" Davis said. "And then I turned around, and the door was still open, and I repeated it, like questioning it. So I was like, 'F Jesus?’"
He was later called to the Dean of Discipline Rudy Turnbull’s office, who claimed Davis yelled the phrase into the auditorium. “I never denied that I said it,” he said. “But I didn’t say it directly into the auditorium.”
Cardinal Hayes' president, the Rev. Joseph Tierney, wrote Martin an email and said he wouldn’t change his mind. "Latrell, due to his actions, is not welcomed at the Cathedral for the Cardinal Hayes Graduation. I think it is in everyone's best interest that this request be adhered to. The decision to not have Latrell attend the Cardinal Hayes Graduation is final.”
Davis, who is going to Utica College on a merit scholarship next fall, knows what he would say if he’s allowed to graduate with his classmates. “I would apologize," he said, "for doing something so stupid.”
Image via stevensokulski/Flickr