A Mississippi teen decided to miss her own high school graduation on Saturday after a federal judge upheld her school district’s decision to prevent her from wearing a dress and heels for the monumental event. The suit filed against the school was brought before the court on May 18.
This week, a transgender girl identified in the lawsuit as L.B. and her family filed a lawsuit against the Harrison County School District after they told her that she couldn’t wear clothing that aligned with her gender identity as a woman. The school officials cited that “boys” had to wear a dress shirt, pants, dress shoes, and a tie; on the other hand, girls were required to wear a white dress and dress shoes. L.B. brought the lawsuit against Harrison Central High School in Gulfport, Mississippi, after school officials told her that she had to adhere to the men’s dress code in accordance to her sex assigned at birth, not her chosen gender identity.
However, the filers claimed that the “Defendants have offered no rationale that could justify the severe and ongoing deprivation of Plaintiffs’ constitutional and statutory rights to be free from gender discrimination.”
The lawsuit said that despite the fact that L.B continuously wore feminine-styled clothes throughout her four years of high school “during in-person classes, school-sponsored events and programs, and extracurricular activities” and even a dress and heels for her prom, she “must dress in accordance with the stereotypical male standards [for graduation], even though she entered high school as a girl and has lived every aspect of her high school career as a girl.”
The legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi, Joshua Tom, argued, “The school’s discriminatory policy and court’s decision forced our client to decide between being herself and celebrating this important life milestone.”
“L.B. is just like every other high school senior – excited to commemorate the last four years of her high school career, to walk across the stage and accept her long-awaited diploma as her teachers and peers cheer her on, and to go home to celebrate this momentous occasion with her parents, family members, and friends.”
Tom explained in the lawsuit filed earlier this week that although graduation was scheduled for Saturday, she wouldn’t be in attendance. L.B.’s legal team claimed that Harrison Central High School was discriminating against her based on her gender and were intentionally causing her and her family humiliation and distress by practically forcing them to miss the graduation ceremony, a significant event in her high school life.
“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…[they] seek urgent relief from this Court to stop Defendants from continuing to inflict irreparable harm by discriminating against L.B. based on gender and preventing her from participating in her graduation in a manner consistent with her gender identity.”
The attorney for the school district, in which the federal judge ruled in favor, argued that since L.B. is no longer a student and has since finished her academic school year, attending any ceremony isn’t a right. The district also argued that their records showed that L.B.’s birth certificate listed the teen as a boy and, therefore, she should dress as such.
They wrote in the filing, “Participating 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.”