A female student, supported by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), is suing her school after it removed her name and portrait from its yearbook because she was wearing a tuxedo in the photo.
Ceara Sturgis claims that she was unfairly discriminated against by the Wesson Attendance Center based on her sex and unfair gender stereotypes.
“I went to school with my classmates my whole life, and it hurts that I’m not included in my senior yearbook as part of my graduating class,” Sturgis said. “I never thought that my school would punish me just for being who I am.”
Sturgis was an honour student and a member of several sports teams at Wesson, where she attended school from kindergarten through to her senior year.
At home and at school, she dresses in clothing that is traditionally associated with boys, and had previously not encountered any problems from her peers or teachers. When she had her formal senior portrait taken, she opted to wear a tuxedo, rather than a drape that gives the appearance of wearing a dress or a blouse.
It was only after the portrait was taken that the principal informed Ceara that he would not allow the photo to be published.
Despite efforts to resolve the issue by Ceara’s mother and the ACLU, Ceara received her yearbook without her portrait, or even her name, included in the senior class portrait section.
“Inclusion in the senior yearbook is a rite of passage for students, and it is shameful that Ceara was denied that chance,” said Christine P. Sun, senior counsel with the ACLU Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Project.
“It’s unfair and unlawful to force students to conform to outdated notions about what boys and girls should look like without any regard to who they actually are as people,” Sun added.