A transgender teen in Mississippi chose to skip his graduation because he would not be allowed to dress like a girl, after a judge upheld the school district's graduation dress code.
The teen from the Harrison County School District has declared himself a woman since freshman year, even wearing a blue dress to the Harrison Central High School prom. However, according to CNN, the unnamed teen and his mother both signed a document on March 14, 2023, that stated that they agreed to follow the conditions required to participate in the graduation ceremony.
The Harrison County School District’s policy on graduation stated, “Students are expected to wear dress shoes, dress clothes (dresses or dressy pant-suit for girls and dress pants, shirt, and tie for the boys).”
On the Friday before the ceremony, a federal judge in Gulfport, Mississippi, denied a motion filed by the family requesting the teen be allowed to wear a dress and heels underneath the graduation gown.
“Graduation school dress policy is girls have to wear white dresses and boys wear a white button up shirt with a tie and black pants and socks with black dress shoes,” said the mother, Samantha Brown. “This has never been an issue before. We felt like we were abiding by the dress code according to what she identifies as.”
Both the mother and the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed a lawsuit on behalf of the family, have rejected the idea that governing bodies are making decisions based on the teen's biological sex.
"The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Mississippi have filed a lawsuit against Harrison County School District (HCSD) after school officials told a graduating transgender student she could not wear a dress or heeled shoes to her graduating ceremony as requested by her and her parents," the ACLU said in a press release.
"She has been looking forward to finally walking across the stage at her high school graduation this Saturday, May 20, and picked out a dress and pair of heeled shoes months ago to wear under her traditional cap and gown in accordance with the school’s dress code for female students," the statement continued.
As well, Mitchell King, superintendent of Harrison County School District, reportedly testified in court documents that the district refers to students' birth certificates to record whether they are male or female. The family alleges that the superintendent told them that the teen “is still a boy,” therefore “he needs to wear pants, socks, and shoes, like a boy" at graduation.
The mother also called the school district's decision "deeply offensive" and a "discriminatory action" toward her "daughter."
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