An attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union is asking a Tallahassee school district to ensure it will permit students to “wear clothing regardless whether it is consistent with gender stereotypes,” in a letter released Oct. 16 to the superintendent of Leon County Schools.

ACLU dress code letter to Tallahassee school is inresponse 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 parentswithdrew 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.

Superintendent Pons responded to the incident by saying the school’s environment needed to change, not the student’s clothing. Tilley said he applauded her recognition, but asked for clarification.

“Please confirm that you will no longer restrict students’ clothing based on gender,” Tilley said.


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