Tallahassee – Leon County Schools Superintendent is responding to the American Civil Liberties Union after one of their attorneys asked for insurance that it will permit students to “wear clothing regardless whether it is consistent with gender stereotypes,” in a letter released Oct. 16.
The ACLU dress code letter to the Tallahassee school was in response to an incident from Oct. 13 where a Fairview Middle School student, who was born male but identifies as agender, was told by Principal Scott Hansen that they needed to change out of their dress, because “dresses are not for boys.” The parents withdrew the eighth-grader from the school the same day. The ACLU says the principal’s actions violated the student’s rights established under the Equal Protection Clause and the First Amendment.
“Schools may impose a gender-neutral requirement of proper, even formal, attire for school events (provided it does not create an undue financial burden for students). But schools cannot rely on sex stereotypes that require, for example, that boys wear tuxedos or suits and that girls wear dresses,” ACLU attorney Daniel B. Tilley said in a media release.
Jackie Pons, Superintendent of Leon County Schools, responded saying, “Our District takes issues like these very seriously and I regret that an incident occurred.”
“I have met with the mother of the student and have apologized to her and her child on behalf of our school district,” Pons continued.“I have reviewed Board Policy 5511 regarding Dress Codes and the Dress Code for Fairview Middle School and find no language that requires a student to dress a certain way based on gender. I can confirm to you that the Leon County School District’s policies do not contain or allow student clothing restrictions based on gender.”
The ACLU applauded Pon’s commitment and actions to ensure appropriate treatment of transgender and gender nonconforming students.
“We hope that other school districts take note and will ensure that their administrators, teachers and staff enforce dress codes within the bounds of the law and provide for the safe and respectful treatment of all students,” they said in a statement.