US court told prom dress ban was unconstitutional

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Papers filed today in the Northern District Court of Indiana by an LGBT civil rights organisation argue that a high school violated a male pupil’s rights under the First Amendment of the US constitution by barring him from his prom for wearing a dress.

K.K. Logan attended West Side High in Gary, Indiana, during his junior and senior year and expressed a deeply rooted femininity in his appearance and demeanour say Lambda Legal.

“Both classmates and teachers at the school supported him in his daily attendance dressed in clothes typically associated with girls his age,” the LGBT rights group said in a statement about the case.

“However, on May 19, 2006, Principal Diane Rouse stretched her arms across the door of the Senior Prom, blocking Logan’s entrance.

“His classmates and friends rallied to his defence to no avail, even though a female student was allowed entrance dressed in a tuxedo.

“Principal Rouse has stood by a school policy that deems inappropriate any “clothing/ accessories that advertise sexual orientation, sex, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, profanity, negative social or negative educational statements.””

K.K. Logan said: “I don’t dress this way to make trouble or draw attention to myself.

“I dress this way because it’s who I am and how I feel on the inside. Gay and trans students have rights, and they should be treated fairly.”

James P. Madigan, Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Midwest Regional Office in Chicago, said it was “plain offensive” that sexual orientation is lumped in with drugs and profanity in the school’s dress code.

“Even more troublesome is that the whole policy is in violation of students’ First Amendment rights,” he said.

“There are ways to write policies that both create rules for student behaviour and also respect their rights, but this isn’t one of them.”

Lambda Legal argues that Logan’s First Amendment rights were violated, including the freedoms of speech, symbolic action, and expressive conduct and that the school district also engaged in unlawful discrimination on the basis of sex and gender.

The First Amendment reads:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”