Judge Won't Block Dress Code for Trans Girl's Graduation

ACLU filed suit in Mississippi for 17-year-old who wants to wear a dress to ceremony
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 20, 2023 11:40 AM CDT
Judge Keeps Graduation Rule That Trans Girl Dress as a Boy
Stock photo   (Getty/amysuem)

A federal judge says he will not block a Mississippi school district from requiring a transgender girl to dress as a boy for high school graduation. US District Judge Taylor McNeel filed his order late Friday after holding a hearing on a lawsuit that the American Civil Liberties Union filed on behalf of the 17-year-old girl against the Harrison County School District, the AP reports. The girl, listed in court papers by her initials, LB, had chosen a dress to wear with her cap and gown Saturday at Harrison Central High School in Gulfport, a coastal town about 160 miles south of Jackson. Graduating boys are expected to wear white shirts and black slacks, while girls are expected to wear white dresses.

Harrison County School District officials told LB that she must follow the boys' clothing rules for graduation, according to the lawsuit the ACLU filed Thursday. The AP left phone and email messages with the ACLU on Saturday asking whether LB's family will appeal the judge's decision not to issue a temporary restraining order against the school district and whether she will participate in the graduation ceremony. The lawsuit said LB wore dresses to classes and extracurricular events throughout high school, including to a prom last year, which she said gave her the expectation that she could wear a dress to graduation.

Wynn Clark, attorney for the Harrison County School Board, responded in court papers Friday that participating in a graduation ceremony is voluntary and not a constitutionally protected right for any student. The judge said the suit did not meet the standard for granting what he called "extraordinary relief in changing the status quo in a short time period," per WLOX. LB said the principal called her in this month to tell her she couldn't participate in the graduation ceremony if she wore a dress. "I was shocked, sickened and never expected it," she said. (More transgender stories.)

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