Sunday, May 18, 2014

Prom and yearbook season consternation

We don't write about every story we hear about high school students prevented from going to the prom in the attire they want or with the date they want or students whose pictures or profiles go unpublished in the student yearbook because of expressions of gender or sexuality that schools dislike. But this story about a female student at a Catholic school in San Fransisco caught my attention for a few reasons. We generally assume that everything in San Francisco is great when it comes to expression of gender identity and sexuality. But this female student, who wore a tuxedo for her senior yearbook photo, was told her picture would not appear in the yearbook as is because she did not wear the prescribed drape mandated for female students. And so it appeared that the religious culture of the parochial school was going to trump the culture of the city in which it resides.
But in a heartening moment of activism and solidarity, Jessica Urbina's classmates protested any alterations to her picture and affirmed her choices by wearing neck ties to school last week. It should be noted that Urbina wears male clothes to school daily, seemingly without any reprisal from the administration.
The campaign to keep Urbina in a tux seems to have worked. The school said that the "events have sparked a campus-wide dialogue which will result in a revision of policy." Whether the school would be compelled by federal or state law to change the policy is unclear because we don't know, for example, if the school takes federal dollars which would subject them to Title IX. But no legal entities or advocacy groups have stepped in at this point--and they may not need to.