As we report on the news happening across the country and around the world, it becomes increasingly difficult to sift out the news stories from those stories meant as parody. This is one such story. The events happened over Thursday and Friday, and involved a Mississippi high school student’s disagreement about the school’s dress code for taking part in Saturday’s graduation ceremony. The student took the school to court over it, and lost. But hang tight for more on that later.
Graduating from high school often involves, as readers know, a serious and very formal ceremony (also known as commencement). It’s meant to be treated as special and distinct from the rest of the school year—whether that’s day to day classes or extracurricular activities like dances, or sporting and scholastic events. After all, the graduation ceremony acts as milestone of sorts between a person’s childhood and adulthood. Unfortunately, the adults in the the life of the student in this tale apparently failed to explain these basic facts (or the student refused to listen) because the student decided to make the school’s graduation all about himself.
The student, who is a biological male and identifies as transgender, demanded to be allowed to wear a dress to his high school graduation ceremony. And when the school administrators didn’t relent, he took them to court.
A report published Saturday by the Associated Press says the case, filed Thursday in Gulfport, Mississippi, is between the Harrison County School District and an organization representing the 17-year-old student (who, as a minor, is only mentioned in the court documents by his initials L.B.).
….Harrison Central principal Kelly Fuller and school district superintendent Mitchell King told L.B. that she must follow the boys’ clothing rules. Graduating boys are expected to wear white shirts and black slacks, while girls are expected to wear white dresses.
L.B. had selected a dress to wear with her cap and gown. The lawsuit said L.B. had worn dresses to classes and extracurricular events throughout high school, including to a prom last year, and she should not face discriminatory treatment during graduation.
King told L.B.’s mother that the teenager could not participate in the graduation ceremony unless L.B. wears ”‘pants, socks, and shoes, like a boy,’” according to the lawsuit.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Women’s Rights Project filed the case on L.B.’s behalf. Let the irony of the project’s name sink in a second.
ACLU attorney Linda Morris claimed the teen boy was being discriminated against, as was his family, who would miss “a once-in-a-lifetime milestone” in their child’s life. “No one should be forced to miss their graduation because of their gender,” she said.
The student lost his case in federal court late Friday. U.S. District Judge Taylor McNeel ruled that the school officials’ decision on the dress code would stand. So, the ACLU said, the teen “would skip the Saturday ceremony.” The school district’s attorney, Wynn Clark, summed it up neatly:
Clark wrote in court papers Friday that taking part in a graduation ceremony is voluntary and not a constitutionally protected right for any student.
Even though the high school senior “has met the qualifications to receive a diploma,” as Clark told the AP, he and his family will indeed miss the “once-in-a-lifetime” milestone—because he had a fit over not getting to wear women’s shoes and a dress.
I leave you, dear readers, with the part of the story that’s most worthy of parody. To match the AP’s strangled, nonsensical changes in the “news” story to the English language, here’s their headline:
“Trans girl misses Mississippi graduation after being told to dress like boy.”
To paraphrase the great Dave Barry, you can’t make this up.
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