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Lesbian barred from school yearbook for wearing a tux

Jessica Geen October 16, 2009
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A lesbian student in Mississippi is challenging her school’s decision to bar her from the yearbook for wearing a tuxedo.

Ceara Sturgis, 17, an openly gay senior at Wesson Attendance Center in Wesson, wore the garment for her yearbook photo.

She was subsequently told by school officials that unless she wore a dress or a drape, her photo would not appear in the book.

Sturgis said in a statement: “I feel like I’m not important, that the school is dismissing who I am as a gay student and that they don’t even care about me. All I want is to be able to be me, and to be included in the yearbook.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Mississippi has now sent a letter to Copiah County School District to demand that she be permitted to wear a tuxedo.

The letter cited the First Amendment, which protects self-expression, and the 14th Amendment, which prohibits public schools from engaging in gender discrimination.

In a press release, the organisation said: “Different treatment based on sex is constitutional only if supported by a significant governmental interest. The ACLU-MS certainly sees no significant governmental interest in barring girls from wearing tuxedos or forcing them to wear dresses/drapes.”

The letter suggested that legal action would be taken, should the school and school district fail to comply by October 23rd.

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