BY Jack Davis, The Western JournalMay 21, 2023
4 months ago

Court Hands Transgender Student Crushing Defeat After Suing Over Dress Code Policy for Graduation

A 17-year-old boy has just learned the facts of life as decided by a federal judge, which means that as a biological male he cannot wear a dress to his high school graduation.

On Friday night, U.S. District Court Judge Taylor McNeel for the Southern District of Mississippi turned away a request from the America Civil Liberties Union and the student's parents that the student, identified as L.B., be allowed to wear a white dress to Harrison Central High School Saturday graduation, according to WLOX.

McNeel said the case did not warrant “extraordinary relief in changing the status quo in a short time period.”

McNeel, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, defined the status quo as the school’s insistence that it follow a dress code that specifies different attire for each gender.

In making the ruling, McNeel said cases involving dress codes involving transgender individuals are limited and similar cases didn’t exist.

During Friday’s hearing, the student said he wore dresses throughout high school and was accepted by everyone in the school as if he was female.

Harrison County School District Superintendent Mitchell King told the court he felt it was his obligation to uphold the dress code. He said he checked the code after seeing a male student in a dress at a school event.

The complaint filed claimed that “Defendants’ sudden decision to prohibit L.B. from wearing dresses and heeled shoes now, during the final and perhaps most important event of her high school career, serves no legitimate interest or justification.”

According to the complaint, the student purchased a white dress and shoes online, with the assistance of his mother.  Then in May, he was called to the office of Principal Kelly Fuller and asked what he was wearing to graduation.

“Defendant Fuller said that L.B. could not wear a dress and that L.B. would need to wear what the boys are wearing. Defendant Fuller also informed L.B. that the request to meet with L.B. was prompted by Defendant King, who had recently called and asked what the transgender students would wear to graduation,” the complaint said.

“During this meeting, L.B. felt extremely upset, embarrassed, and distressed about being singled out and instructed that she would not be allowed to wear a dress at her high school graduation. Following the meeting, L.B. began crying and contacted her mother,” the complaint said.

The next day, Samantha Brown, the boy’s mother, was told by the superintendent “that L.B. ‘is still a boy’ and that ‘he needs to wear pants, socks, and shoes, like a boy.’ Ms. Brown asked what would happen if L.B. wore a dress to the ceremony, and Defendant King stated that she would not be allowed to participate.”

The school district said participation in graduation is not a right, according to USA Today.

"(P)articipating in a voluntary graduation ceremony when you are no longer a student and wearing a cap and gown and complying with the dress code you agreed to abide by, does not infringe on protected rights or justify extraordinary injunctive relief," the district said in a filing to oppose the attempt to allow the boy to wear a dress.

The district said that school records include a birth certificate identifying the student as a male.

The school district also said that the dress code has been in place for two years and that months ago, the mother and student signed an agreement to abide by the school’s dress code, according to the Sun Herald.

Linda Morris, staff attorney at the ACLU's Women’s Rights Project, called the ruling “as disappointing as it is absurd,” according to ABC.

“Our client is being shamed and humiliated for explicitly discriminatory reasons, and her family is being denied a once-in-a-lifetime milestone in their daughter’s life. No one should be forced to miss their graduation because of their gender,” Morris said.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

Written by: Jack Davis, The Western Journal



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