Trans high school teen skips Mississippi graduation after being barred from wearing a dress

A 17-year-old transgender “girl” in Mississippi skipped graduation following a ruling on Friday from a federal judge who determined the school district could prevent the teen from receiving his “long-awaited diploma” in a dress.

Harris County School District imposed a dress code for the May 20th ceremony, stipulating that males were to wear “a white button-down shirt, black dress pants, black dress shoes, and a tie or bowtie,” while girl’s were to wear “a white dress and dress shoes,” CBS News reports.

The student, identified in court documents as “LB,” wanted to wear the latter, and when he was denied, he sued Harris Central High School Principal Kelly Fuller, the Harrison County School Board, Harrison County School District, and Superintendent Mitchell King, according to the Washington Examiner.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Taylor McNeel ruled that the dress code could stand at Harris Central High School.

“The loss of an opportunity to participate in a graduation ceremony is not an unconstitutional infringement on a student’s right to freely exercise his religious beliefs, wrote Harris County School District attorney Wynn Clark.

Quoting Smith v. North Babylon Union Free School District, Clark stated, “A student’s interest in attending a graduation ceremony is ‘a social occasion in which students and their families and friends gather to mark an event.’ It is not ‘an important benefit’ the State confers.”

LB was represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who called the decision “concerning.”

“Late last night, a judge ruled that Harrison County Schools can bar our client, a trans girl, from attending her high school graduation unless she wears boy’s clothes – socks, dress shoes, pants, a button down shirt and tie,” the ACLU of Mississippi tweeted on Saturday. “The court’s decision to uphold the school district’s explicit discrimination of our client is deeply disappointing and concerning.”

“Our client should be focused on celebrating this life milestone alongside her friends and loved ones. Instead, this ruling casts shame and humiliation on a day that should be focused on joy and pride,” the ACLU continued. “All Mississippi students should have the right and autonomy to be who they are—not who judges and school officials think they should be.”

Online, reaction to the ruling is predictably split, with some applauding the school district and others slamming it for its lack of empathy.

“Yeah following rules is so tough,” wrote one user on Twitter. “Come on, this is ridiculous. I’m glad the school is remaining principled.”

“People should not be able to do literally whatever they want all the time just because they decide to get some of that trans privilege,” stated another.

“He is being all he can be: a male,” noted a third.

But according to the more progressive users on Twitter, the judge’s ruling is “un-American.”

“There’s nothing more American than freedom of expression,” said one user, who hoped the decision would be appealed. “This judge’s decision is un-American.”

“Another aspect of the pettiness – aren’t all graduates wearing caps & gowns at the ceremony anyway?” asked another. “Are they going to make people undress to make certain they’ve got the right clothing hidden underneath?”

“Every female/girl in that school should dress in socks, dress shoes, pants, button down shirt, and tie in solidarity and total support of this young lady!!!” exclaimed yet another, who offered some descriptive emojis for both the judge and the state of Mississippi.

“When I was in high school, girls were not allowed to wear pants or shorts. We were required to wear dresses and skirts. Never was a boy tempted to wear a dress so it was never mentioned in the dress code,” one level-headed user tweeted. “So what has changed? School districts have the right to set dress code.”


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