How To Attend a Graduation Maskless

We want to attend our daughter’s graduation next week, but there is a mandatory mask policy. What do I do? 


Silicon Valley Mom & Dad 

When it comes to face masks, the word “mandatory” never means mandatory. Face masks are just too harmful to actually be mandatory. They cause psychological, sociological, and of course biological harm. The more we go through mass masking, the more clear the studies are about how really awful the things are, and we’ve known since long before masking started, that they simply do not help to stop the spread of a respiratory virus and may even be harmful.

There is no question that they are harmful and I can’t make an argument for how anyone can claim to be able to wear a face mask safely. Just like so many other parts of 2020, face masks have been goofy experimentation.

So what is one to do when encountered with a less well read person claiming authority over you and a knuckleheaded one at that? One just needs to push in the right places and say the right words to have your exemption honored. There is no exclusive secret formula. There are many.

It all comes do to your being able to understand the policy appropriately, invoking an exemption effectively, and saying yes or no honestly.

1.) Get a hold of the policy. 

Somewhere there is a written policy. Hey a hold of it and read it. Until you read it, don’t trust anyone else’s reading of it. Read primary source works yourself all the time. Accepting secondary interpretations blindly is how people lie to you and manipulate you, and in accepting secondary or even tertiary rather than primary sources, you welcome manipulation in your own life. The following email may do the trick in getting you the policy.

Dear Principal Skinner, 

I plan on attending graduation. I am unable to wear a face mask safely. May I see the written face mask policy along with all exemptions? 


Allan Stevo

2.) Identify the exemptions as they relate to you. 

Buried somewhere. Perhaps in paragraphs as deep as 6 or 7 or 12 or 40 will be mention of exemptions or exceptions or some similar word. They almost always very clearly state those who cannot wear a mask safely are exempt.

3.) Invoke the exemption. 

This may best be handled over the phone. However the following email could also work:

Dear Principal Skinner,

Thank you for sending me the policy. I see you have exemptions to the requirement. I fit those exemptions. I’m going to plan to arrive at 1:45 p.m. and would like to be assured that all people working the event are aware and do not bother me about this.


Allan Stevo 

4.) Don’t jump through a hoop. 

If you’re asked to cover your face with your shirt, cover your face with a Kleenex, cover your face with a face shield, jump around on one leg or any other equally preposterous and ineffective method, just say “That will not work for me. What other options exist?” or if it is true “I am unable to do that safely either, could you please send me your written policy on that complete with exemptions?”

5.) If exemptions aren’t included, ask again for them. 

Dear Principal Skinner,

I noticed you did not send exemptions to the face mask policy. The county, state, and CDC are all very clear about the need for exemptions. Please send those exemptions. 


Allan Stevo 

6.) If they show a county policy as the school policy and say “We are just following the policy,” that’s awesome! 

Almost every governmental policy I’ve seen includes exemptions. Just get your hands on that policy and invoke an exemption.

7.) Details of your exemptions are no one’s business. 

If asked for a doctor’s note say “That won’t be possible.” If pressed for a reason why you need an exemption, repeat “I’m unable to wear a face mask safely.” If pressed for further details say “That’s private.” It really is no one’s business. It’s not about the ADA, it’s not about HIPPA, though you could make it about those relatively distracting items. What it really comes down to is that it’s simply no one else’s business. To invoke a sense of common decency does not require you to cite any laws.

8.) Speak to the decision-maker. 

If anyone else is mentioned as the higher authority that the principal or health officer is relying on to make a decision, then ask to speak to that person directly.

If someone else is running to another authority figure for permission, then you are speaking to the wrong person. You put yourself at a disadvantage as a negotiator if you do otherwise. You also put yourself at a disadvantage as a communicator, which is really what you are doing here: communicating honestly with another human by identifying your values, communicating your values, and identifying your values.

9.) Don’t let them run out the clock on you. 

The easiest thing for them to do is ignore you. This may cause you to miss graduation or to arrive in a conflict ridden and uncertain situation.  Don’t let that happen. I recommend calling AND emailing at least twice a day, morning and afternoon, until this simple matter is resolved to your satisfaction.

This is a very, very easy thing to handle. All it requires is for someone to say “Ok.” If someone is making that unnecessarily difficult for you, don’t be afraid to be the squeaky wheel. They are practically begging your for that by putting silly obstacles in your way.

10.) Wash, rinse, repeat. 

This may take a few back-and-forths by email or phone or it may be quick. If needed, continue to read the policies sent to you and to cite the policy exemptions and to invoke them for you yourself to go maskless.

11.) Get it in writing and print that up. 

Get a written letter from the decision-maker clarifying that you will be unmasked and how that is to be handled, complete with his personal cell number that you can call from the event in case there are any last minute conflicts. Just asking for the cell phone will put the decision-maker on a higher level of notice that he must prepare for you to be treated very well that day. Keep that printed letter in your pocket just in case. Don’t turn right to the letter if it’s needed, rely on your ability to negotiate using your words first.

12.) Calmly enjoy the ceremony unmasked. 

You may be the only unmasked people there. That’s fine. Lead the way. Encourage others. Don’t let it faze you. You are doing powerful work for yourself, your family, and your daughter. It will also positively impact many others who you can’t even imagine it rippling out encouragingly through. This happens all because you resolved to tell the truth and to stand for no less than the high standards you set for yourself and your loved ones.

Stop wearing the face mask. Allan Stevo’s bestselling “Face Masks on One Lesson makes that easy to do. Read his writing to learn how. And sign up for his newsletter, videos, and classes to learn how.