Pauline's School Uniforms and Dress Codes Page:
Gender Identity and Sexuality
Information about school dress codes as they relate to sexuality and gender identity,
including incidents involving gay and lesbian students.

When I dare to be powerful: to use my strength in the service of my vision-
then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.
--Audre Lorde

School Uniforms & Dress Codes: Main Page

Creative Compliance

Opinions and Arguments

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Results & Outcomes (Studies, compliance, enforcement)

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This Web Page by Pauline Harding for Art Nurk.
Contents may be copied if credit is given.



Most Recent Incidents

         Teen Sues Over “Lesbian Barbie" Shirt Ban
“A New York teen-ager alleged…that teachers violated her civil rights when they suspended her from school for wearing a "Barbie is a Lesbian" T-shirt.  Lawyers who filed a lawsuit on her behalf in Manhattan federal court said 14-year-old Natalie Young is openly lesbian and that a teacher laughed at her, calling the garment and its reference to the popular Barbie doll "inappropriate." 
Young alleged that the principal held her for three hours in an office at the school in the borough of Queens on April 10, 2002 and refused to allow her to return to class while she wore the T-shirt…."Schools cannot legally engage in this type of selective, content-based suppression of speech," lawyer Dan Perez said.  "If she had worn a 'Barbie Supports the Troops in the War in Iraq' T-shirt, she would have been called a patriot."  Perez said that on another school day before the T-shirt incident, teachers made Young remove rainbow colored beads from her hair, although she was not suspended then…”

"Straight Pride" Incident
This one has implications for all "majority pride" types of incidents. It is a classic First Amendment vs. Group Safety vs Values & Religion (whose?) issue. If you're looking at dress codes as part of a school debate, or are using dress codes to teach about free speech, this is a great case study. I've included several links so that you can see this issue from a variety of viewpoints.

         AFA Issues: Homosexual Agenda - Elliot's story
In the student's own words.
"On Tuesday, January 16, I wore my "straight pride" shirt to school and got called into the Assistant Principal's office. She said that a girl had come into her office complaining on behalf of other "gay" and "lesbian" students who were "offended" by my shirt. The AP said she wasn't banning the shirt, but wanted to warn me that people were offended by it and that she would be talking to the principal about it. And that he might actually put the kabosh to the shirt. Sure enough, the next day, the Principal called me into the office and said that my shirt was offensive to the "gay and lesbian" students and banned me from wearing it anymore."

         "Straight Pride" Bully Doesn't Get It (GLSEN News-Press)
This article is from the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network.
"I'm guessing that Chambers hasn't yet grasped that his hamhanded effort makes him appear the fool. Right now, he must think he's the man. ...What he doesn't get yet is the fact that declaring "Straight Pride" in a world in which heterosexuality dominates isn't courage, but overkill. It's wielding a sledgehammer against a push pin... Under a strict definition of free speech, he has every right in the world to wear such a shirt. But he looks silly. ."

         Woodbury, Minnesota Highschool Bans Student's Straight Pride Sweatshirt [Free Republic]
"Elliot stated that he wore the sweatshirt one day to school as a way of celebrating his heterosexuality. ...The school policy states that any clothing worn by a student that is offensive to another student, is not allowed and that is why they asked him not to wear it again. ...a homosexual student at Woodbury High School, who evidently also leads a Christian Bible study at his school...stated that Elliot attends his Bible study where a heated discussion led to an argument about gay pride. He feels that Elliot was "poking fun" at gay pride by wearing the shirt"

         Student Sues School Over Ban of 'Straight Pride' Sweatshirt
"The center is challenging the constitutionality of the school's policy, which, according to DePrimo, says: "Students may not wear items with unacceptable writing or graphic depictions, which offend anyone or distract from the educational experience of students at Woodbury High School. Unacceptable writing or graphic depictions are those, which are commonly accepted as vulgar, obscene or socially demeaning or derogatory." DePrimo said, "And it's our position that his sweatshirt does not fall into that category." Stephen M. Crampton, chief counsel for the center, said: "This is a case of classic viewpoint discrimination. The school has chosen to openly embrace homosexuality and bisexuality, and it does not welcome dissenting points of views. What is especially troubling is the school's open hostility toward student support of committed man-woman relationships."

         The links below are out-of-date - I'll try to find the stories again and update this when I can.

A different take on the same incident, from the New York Post.
Student Sues to Express Straight Pride
Yet another viewpoint, this one from Planet Out.
Sweatshirt's Message Is Subject of Suit
And this one from Reuters.

More incidents involving Gender & Sexuality

         Teen Protests School's Refusal To Let Him Wear A Dress
"Stickney, a 15-year-old sophomore who is gay, has been the subject of a storm of attention and controversy for several days because he has showed up at school in a dress. School administrators have repeatedly sent him home, sparking protests among approximately 100 students who cut classes. Some students have also expressed their support by wearing drag themselves. The Times-Argus reports cases of boys wearing pink lipstick and girls in button-down shirts with ties."

         Cross-dresser prompts debate about gay rights
At first, Peters came to school wearing buttons on his backpack. One had intertwined symbols for men. Another read "Because I'm Gay, That's Why." Another favorite from Peters' closet: a "Sorry Girls, I'm Gay" T-shirt. Administrators asked Peters to remove those pins and to cover the T-shirt. This made Peters mad. So, the self-described activist and agitator thought: "If you want to see gay, I'll show you gay." That's when he strolled into school swathed in black velvet."

         Virginia School Bars Senior from Graduation for Wearing Pants
"Jennie Smith, 17, doesn't understand why she can't participate in her school's graduation ceremony with the rest of her class simply because of her clothing preference.

         Lesbian Named Prom King (WA)

Other Resources for GLBTQ Issues
If you are interested in learning more about Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered, and Questioning teens, you may find these pages useful.

For more news about gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered youth in schools (not just clothing issues), visit the excellent GLSEN News-Press site.