Federal Judge in Mississippi Says School Can Force Trans Girl to Dress as Boy at Graduation

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The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of the 17-year-old student, who went by “L.B.,” and her parents.

A federal judge in Mississippi says a school can force a trans girl to dress as a boy at graduation following a decision that came down late Friday, according to reports.

U.S. District Court Judge Taylor McNeel issued the ruling Friday evening that the Harrison County School District can prohibit a 17-year-old transgender girl from attending her graduation Saturday unless she dresses in attire designated for boys, Mississippi Free Press reported.

The verdict came hours of testimony from the Harrison Central High School senior in Gulfport, Miss., and school district officials including the school principal and superintendent, according to The Sun Herald.

McNeel said that there were no previous rulings centering around transgender dress code violations to reference that would have supported a decision to go against the school district’s existing dress code policy for graduating seniors, according to The Sun Herald.

Following the verdict, the ACLU of Mississippi blasted the judge’s decision.

“The court’s decision to uphold the school district’s explicit discrimination of our client is deeply disappointing and concerning,” the ACLU of Mississippi responded in a Twitter thread this morning. “Our client should be focused on celebrating this life milestone alongside her friends and loved ones. Instead, this ruling casts shame and humiliation on a day that should be focused on joy and pride. All Mississippi students should have the right and autonomy to be who they are—not who judges and school officials think they should be.”

The emergency injunction hearing was scheduled for Friday after the ACLU filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court asking a judge to allow the Harrison High student to allow her to dress as she wished instead of being forced to wear boy’s clothes and shoes just the day before, according to The Sun Herald.

The school's dress code policy for graduation "provides that girls must wear a white dress and dress shoes and that boys must wear a white button-down shirt, black dress pants, black dress shoes, and a tie or bowtie."

The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of the 17-year-old student, who went by “L.B.,” and her parents.

“On May 9, 2023—less than two weeks before graduation day, Defendants informed Plaintiff L.B. that she could not attend or participate in her high school graduation ceremony while wearing a dress and heeled shoes,” the complaint filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi said.

The complaint, obtained by Inside Edition Digital, said, “Defendants instructed that L.B. must dress in accordance with her sex assigned at birth—in other words, that L.B. must dress in accordance with the stereotypical male standards, even though she entered high school as a girl and has lived every aspect of her high school career as a girl.”

“Defendants’ sudden decision to prohibit L.B. from wearing dresses and heeled shoes now, during the final and perhaps most important event of her high school career, serves no legitimate interest or justification,” the complaint added.

The ruling comes as schools across America find themselves at the center of the debate about how transgender minors should be treated, Newsweek reported.

At least 490 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been through state legislatures just in 2023, the ACLU says.

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