A judge will not block the Harrison County School District from requiring a trans girl to dress as a boy for her graduation ceremony Saturday.
The order was given from the bench late Friday night after attempts to settle the matter in conference and a hearing Friday afternoon, according to court records.
The student, a 17-year-old senior at Harrison Central High School, has been openly transgender for her entire high school career and has “frequently and consistently worn dresses, skirts, and traditionally feminine clothing items and accessories to school and school-sponsored events and activities, without issue or repercussion,” according to the original complaint.
The ACLU sued the district Thursday after the student, referred to as L.B. in court documents, was told last week that she would not be able to wear a dress to graduation as she had been planning and would not be able to participate in the ceremony if she did wear a dress. Harrison Central High School Principal Kelly Fuller told L.B. in the course of the conversation that it was prompted by Harrison County Superintendent Mitchell King calling the school and asking what transgender students would wear to graduation.
The judge ruled that the case did not meet the standard to grant “extraordinary relief in changing the status quo in a short time period,” as reported by WLOX. The judge said there is limited case law regarding dress codes for transgender people and that similar cases did not exist.
The lawsuit alleged gender discrimination as a violation of constitutional rights and federal law, specifically Title IX, the First Amendment’s freedom of expression clause, and the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause. The response from the school district argued that L.B. does not have a federally protected right to attend a voluntary graduation ceremony.
“This decision is as disappointing as it is absurd,” Linda Morris, an attorney with the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, said in a statement. “Our client is being shamed and humiliated for explicitly discriminatory reasons, and her family is being denied a once-in-a-lifetime milestone in their daughter’s life.”
The Harrison Central High School graduation was Saturday, May 20, at 6:30 p.m.
Update 5/22/23: This story has been updated to include a response from the ACLU to the judge’s decision.