A School’s Suspension over Dress Code Violation Sends “Mixed Messages” to Transgender Teen

Last week, high school administrators suspended a transgender student, Staceyy Holidayy, for wearing a shirt that violates the girls dress code, despite allegedly forbidding her from also using facilities designated for female students.

As reported, Staceyy purposely violated the dress code by wearing a backless top to bring attention to the administration’s inconsistent treatment of her gender identity. She told reporters, “I don’t know how they can suspend me because I broke rules for girls when I can’t use the girls restroom or locker room.”

The administration disputes Staceyy’s claims, telling reporters it was agreed that Staceyy would use the nurses office for the restroom and changing. They thought it would be “safer” for her to do so rather than use the regular facilities.

6a00d8341c730253ef01a3fc4fe450970b-250wiThe administration also assured reporters that it adheres to California’s legal requirements in place to protect transgender students. However, Staceyy alleges that she was not given a choice in the matter. Thus, the arrangement may violate the law’s requirement that a student “be permitted to … use facilities consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.”

Signed into California law just last August, the School Success and Opportunity Act, or AB1266, requires a school to allow a student choice in gendered assignments like restrooms, classes, and sports teams. Despite the need to protect LGBTQ youth from institutionalized bullying, the law is under threat as anti-LGBTQ groups successfully organize for its repeal.

For transgender students, ascertaining equal protection and relief via constitutional means is not a guarantee and indeed, such avenues can take years and can be immensely expensive. With affirmative legislation like California’s law, however, a student may be afforded protection and more effective means for recourse. Indeed, in Staceyy’s case, the administration is quick to discuss its compliance with AB1266 in its accommodations for Staceyy.

As far as the suspension goes, however, AB1266 has little to say. Some commentators have lauded the administration’s recognition of Staceyy’s gender by enforcing the girls’ dress code against her (though one wonders whether it is generally so strictly enforced). But regardless of gender identity, the fact that any student is suspended for two days over an arbitrary dress code violation leaves little room for applause.  

[image of student courtesy Towelroad via]