A 17-year-old senior is suing Lebanon High School in Indiana because her principal told her she couldn’t wear a tuxedo to the prom. The teen, whose name hasn’t been released, believes wearing a dress conveys a sexual identity she rejects. The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis on behalf of the girl, and it says that although the school dress code doesn’t specify gender-based requirements, the senior prom dress code dictates that girls wear a formal prom dress. The lawsuit alleges that the prom dress code policy discriminates against students based on gender and the policy violates federal law because the school receives federal funds. The ACLU is seeking an injunction that will allow the teen to wear the same attire as males attending the prom. Meanwhile, school officials are discussing whether to allow the teen to wear a pantsuit, instead. Clearly a women’s pantsuit doesn’t convey the same message as wearing a tux would.
Cases like this seem to come up each year around this time as LGBTQ teens try to enjoy a right of passage that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives. After the jump, other instances in which LGBTQ teens have dealt with similar situations.Kevin Logan, who describes himself as a gay bisexual male and goes by the name K.K., sued West Side High School in Indiana after his principal Diana Rouse barred him from attending the prom because he was wearing an ankle-length pink formal dress. Rouse not only ordered Logan to leave, but also called security. Instead of dancing inside, Logan spent the time taking pictures with his friends in the parking lot. Students and teachers came outside to voice their support and some even asked Rouse to change her mind. [CourtTV.com]
Jason Atwood, a 17-year-old senior in Utah in 2004, was told he’d have to provide written approval from his parents in order to attend each school dance with a same-sex date. More than 20 students joined Atwood in a four-day walkout in December 2004, which caused the principal to reconsider his position. The principal reversed the policy in time for Atwood to attend the Valentine’s dance, but he had already missed two dances. Some students left the dance because, as Atwood said, “Their parents told them they weren’t allowed at dances if dykes and faggots were.” [Tolerance.org]
Some LGBTQ people, who weren’t allowed to attend their high school proms in a way that made them comfortable, get a second chance as adults by attending proms geared towards gay people, like D.C.’s Capital Queer Prom. And some teens opt to go to gay proms like the Pride Prom in Atlanta instead of attending their high school’s prom.