Texas Dad Strips During School Board Meeting in Support of Mask Mandates
With the COVID-19 Delta variant rising across the country, both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that children in grades K through 12 wear masks in school. But that hasn't stopped politicians from attempting to ban mask mandates and parents from speaking out against them.
But some families are begging school officials to require masking. Earlier this month, one Florida tween's poignant letter made headlines. Recently, however, a Texas dad took a decidedly different (and bolder) approach to promoting mask use in schools.
James Akers, whose three children attend school in a small town called Dripping Springs, exposed his feelings on mask mandates during a school board meeting Monday.
"I do not like the government, or any other entity, telling me what to do," said Akers, who was wearing a jacket, pants, suit, and tie. "But sometimes I've got to push the envelope a little bit. And I've decided I'm not just going to talk about it. I'm going to walk the walk."
Pushing the envelope is an understatement. The dad then began to strip, starting with his jacket.
"At work, they make me wear this jacket," Akers said. "I hate it."
Next came the shirt and tie.
"I hate it," Akers repeated.
Then, Akers pointed out that wearing clothes in public is a societal norm mandated by law. He also noted that citizens are required to obey traffic laws, too. Akers then told the crowd he ran three stop signs and four red lights on the way to the meeting. "I have every right to drive as fast as I want to," he said.
Akers then took his undershirt and pants off as the crowd cheered and jeered. Two police officers appeared ready to escort Akers out if he finished his striptease by removing what witnesses say was a bathing suit.
It doesn't appear he did that, but he made his point. "We follow certain rules for a very good reason," Akers reiterated to the room.
Board president Barbara Stroud and the other members did not vote on masking at the meeting, instead asking Akers to put his pants back on.
The reactions to photos of the incident on the Dripping Springs' Facebook page were, unsurprisingly, mixed.
"Now I've seen it all! Good lord. What exactly is he trying to get across?" said one woman. "Tell me you're a child who can't control his emotions without telling me," read another comment.
But others agreed with Akers.
"Can I buy that man a beer? Awesome," someone replied. "What a creative way to make a point," another person commented.
If nothing else, the dramatic reveal made Akers a rockstar in his own house.
"That's my dad. And no, his kids aren't embarrassed. We love him," his daughter, Molly, wrote.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott banned mask mandates in school, something the Texas Education Agency has temporarily halted.
Though kids are generally spared from the worst outcomes of COVID (hospitalizations and death), they are now being hospitalized at record rates nationwide. CDC data shows they peaked at 303 new admissions per day during the week ending Aug. 22.
Experts agree that masking in school is a way to maintain safety as the pandemic continues.