A trans student in Texas was denied being able to wear a tuxedo for his yearbook portrait, prompting the Human Rights Campaign to launch an online petition trying to convince the school to live up to its own non-discrimination policies.
According to the Brownsville Herald, La Feria high school officials demanded that student Jeydon Laredo wear a blouse or a drape if his portrait was to appear in the yearbook, despite protections in place against discrimination based on gender expression.
Mr Laredo said: “Ten or 20 years from now, I may not be friends with all the people I’m friends with now, and if my picture isn’t in the yearbook, I’m afraid they won’t remember me.
“I want them to remember me, but also remember me as I really am.”
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) said the school was violating its own policy as well as federal law.
Launching its online petition, HRC has also teamed with the Southern Poverty Law Center to appeal the school’s decision to the La Feria School Board.
HRC president Chad Griffin said: “The La Feria school district’s ongoing attempt to force Jeydon back in the closet is not only deeply harmful to him personally, it sends a dangerous message to LGBT young people throughout the community that they are better off hiding their true selves.”
Jeydon is a “model student” with no disciplinary history, he added.
The letter from HRC to the school reads: “It is in violation of federal law. It even violates La Feria School District’s very own policies.
“The La Feria policy on ‘Student Welfare, Freedom from Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation’ states that the District explicitly prohibits harassment ‘based on the student’s gender, the student’s expression of characteristics perceived as stereotypical for the student’s gender, or the student’s failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity.’
“As educators, your responsibility is to demonstrate tolerance and inclusion — inside and outside the classroom. Your yearbook should be a lasting symbol of your dedication to developing a positive self-image for all your students.”