Lesbian Student Sues School Over Rejected Tux Photo - U2 Feedback

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Old 08-18-2010, 10:26 AM   #1
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Lesbian Student Sues School Over Rejected Tux Photo

Female students have to wear "drapes"? I wonder what those look like

JACKSON, Mississippi (AP) — Another teenage lesbian is suing a rural Mississippi school district, this time over a policy banning young women from wearing tuxedos in senior yearbook portraits.

Ceara Sturgis' dispute with the central Mississippi Copiah County School District started in 2009, well before a student in another Mississippi school district, Constance McMillen, found national attention in her fight to wear a tuxedo and take a same-sex date to prom.

On Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit for Sturgis, claiming the Copiah County district discriminated against her on the basis of sex and gender stereotypes. Her photo and name were kept out of her senior yearbook.

The ACLU first contacted the district in October 2009 about the issue, but officials said they would adhere to a school policy. By the time Wesson Attendance Center yearbooks were released this spring, school officials had made clear Sturgis' photo in a tuxedo wouldn't be included. But Sturgis was surprised to see even her name was left out of the senior section.

"I guess in the back of my mind I knew that was going to happen, but I did have a little hope. I cried. I put my head down and put my hand over my face," Sturgis said Tuesday.

The suit challenges the district's policy allowing male students, but not female students, to wear a tux for senior portraits. The suit alleges a violation of Title IX, the federal law prohibiting discrimination based on gender.

Sturgis, who has worn masculine clothing since ninth grade and begins classes at Mississippi State University on Wednesday, said she felt as if she was being punished "just for being who I am."

District Superintendent Rickey Clopton didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.

Sturgis graduated with a 3.9 grade point average and participated in numerous extracurricular activities, including band and soccer, her attorneys said.

"Inclusion in the senior yearbook is a rite of passage for students, and it is shameful that Ceara was denied that chance," Christine P. Sun, senior counsel with the ACLU Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Project said in a statement Tuesday.

"It's unfair and unlawful to force students to conform to outdated notions about what boys and girls should look like without any regard to who they actually are as people."

The ACLU attorney also represented McMillen, who drew inspiration from Sturgis in challenging Itawamba County school officials about McMillen's plans for prom this year.

"I inspired her to do what she did and now we are friends," Sturgis said.

But Sturgis didn't face the same hostility as McMillen. Sturgis said her classmates and teachers were supportive, but she hopes hoping the suit will help other gay teenagers who feel they must conceal their gender identity.

"There are students who are hiding it their sexuality," Sturgis said. "They have come up to me and told me they are. I had already decided what I was going to do, but it just took a little while."

While she finished her senior year, Sturgis was living last fall with her grandparents in Wesson, a town of about 1,700.

The students took their yearbook portraits at a studio and Sturgis tried on one of the "drapes" that females students are required to wear.

"The thought of a portrait of her in the 'feminine' clothing as a representation of her senior year embarrassed her, and she began crying," the lawsuit states.

Sturgis later put on the tuxedo and was photographed.

School officials informed Sturgis' mother, Veronica Rodriguez, early in the school year that the tuxedo photograph wouldn't be allowed, according to the suit. At the time, Clopton said federal court decisions supported the school's policy.

The lawsuit names the school district, superintendent Clopton and school principal Ronald Greer. It seeks unspecified damages and attorneys' fees.

The filing comes weeks after McMillen reached a settlement in her federal lawsuit against the Itawamba County School District.

The north Mississippi district had canceled its prom rather than allow McMillen attend with her girlfriend. The district agreed to pay $35,000 and follow a nondiscrimination policy as part of the settlement, though it argued such a policy was already in place.
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Old 08-18-2010, 10:49 AM   #2
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...why the hell should this be an issue, seriously? If guys are allowed to wear tuxes, why can't a girl if she so pleases? It's a picture. Doesn't the school have more important things to concern itself with?

Angela
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Old 08-18-2010, 02:38 PM   #3
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Mississippi, way to keep going backwards
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Old 08-18-2010, 05:55 PM   #4
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In NH recently some school administrators made the decision (I think an extremely ill advised and insensitive one) to put photos of two accused killers in a yearbook. They're accused of the random home invasion killing of a 42 year old woman by a machete-it was extremely brutal. They also attacked her 11 year old daughter but she survived.

That's the first thing I thought of when I read this story-that this girl just couldn't be in a tux for her yearbook photo but that other decision was made. So f'ed up.
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Old 08-18-2010, 10:14 PM   #5
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she dresses masculine all through high school
but for this book she needs an extreme make over??








Ceara and mom

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Old 08-19-2010, 12:38 AM   #6
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So f'ed up.
You just summed up this whole debate with those three words. That entire post clinched the absurdity of this whole mess perfectly . That really IS insane. Wow.

Angela
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Old 08-21-2010, 01:12 PM   #7
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Do you think there should be any rules regarding the photos? What would they be? Just curious. I could certainly see some pranksters taking full advantage of any opening.
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Old 08-21-2010, 02:03 PM   #8
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That was going to be my first post.

Something like, what if the captain of the swim team wanted to have his picture taken in his speedo? or if the football team decided it would be a hoot to dress in full drag with make-up, etc.

Then I did a little google research. And it appears that she has gone all through school wearing pants and shirts with short hair, no make up. She appears to have been a good student, GPA, other activities. etc.

I am pretty sure her other year book and school paper pictures have not required her to put on a dress.

I also thought some middle ground, perhaps a nice neutral sweater, etc. might be appropriate.

But then I came to the conclusion that all the students and parents that have paid attention, know who she is and how she dresses.
They have not had a problem with it in the past. Making her wear a dress and make-up to satisfy others' prejudice would be the greater harm.


Do I think there should be some standards? Absolutely.

Kids should not be able to dress like Vampires, with fangs and fake blood or any other number of stupid things we could list here.
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Old 08-21-2010, 02:05 PM   #9
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Old 08-21-2010, 05:38 PM   #10
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Do you think there should be any rules regarding the photos? What would they be? Just curious. I could certainly see some pranksters taking full advantage of any opening.
So we should trample all over people's rights and humiliate them just in case we get some pranksters?

I went to a fairly conservative private high school (and have taken several yearbook photos for more recent students) and as far as yearbook photos went, it had to be an upper body or head shot with nothing obviously inflammatory and that was about it. Most kids had several shots done and passed out photos other than what was in the yearbook (and yes, many were strange, prank-ish, and/or provocative).
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Old 08-21-2010, 07:15 PM   #11
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That was going to be my first post.

Something like, what if the captain of the swim team wanted to have his picture taken in his speedo?

There are multiple pictures of me in my speedo in all 4 of my yearbooks.
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Old 08-21-2010, 07:49 PM   #12
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I went to a fairly conservative private high school (and have taken several yearbook photos for more recent students) and as far as yearbook photos went, it had to be an upper body or head shot with nothing obviously inflammatory and that was about it.
That's what I was thinking about, too. Now, course, at my high school, senior pictures were allowed to be a little more fancy-people could have shots of themselves in the park, on the steps of their house, next to a tree, stuff like that. But yeah, if it's just the upper body and head, really, why be bothered, then? Who's going to notice much?

Angela
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Old 08-21-2010, 09:45 PM   #13
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Yeah we could do/go wherever we wanted but for the yearbook they only accepted an upper body shot (otherwise you can't even recognize the person b/c it prints smaller than wallet sized).

And yeah, we also had dozens of pics of girls and boys in their Speedos, or me and my team in our leotards (or sports bras and micro-mini spandex shorts more commonly worn for training). Oh noz!
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