Mississippi trans teen not allowed to wear dress at graduation, officials say

A Mississippi transgender high school student will not attend graduation after a federal judge said on Friday the school district could bar the teen from wearing a dress to walk across the stage and collect her "long-awaited diploma."

The 17-year-old transgender girl and her parents filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of Mississippi this week against Harrison County School District after school officials told the girl on May 9 that "she could not attend or participate in her high school graduation ceremony while wearing a dress and heeled shoes," court documents said.

Administrators at Harrison Central High School informed the teen less than two weeks before the event there was a dress code policy for the May 20 graduation which states girls "must wear a white dress and dress shoes," and that boys "must wear a white button-down shirt, black dress pants, black dress shoes, and a tie or bowtie," according to court documents. Administrators said the teen must adhere to the boys' dress code.

The lawsuit stated that school administrators refused to back down from implementing the dress code even though the teen "had entered high school as a girl and has lived every aspect of her high school career as a girl."

There is "no legitimate interest or justification," to deny the teen from wearing a dress on "the final and perhaps most important event of her high school career," the lawsuit read.

After a hearing Friday, the judge's ruling denied the teen's motion for a temporary restraining order against the school district's decision for "reasons stated at the hearing."

"Our client should be focused on celebrating this life milestone alongside her friends and loved ones," said the ACLU of Mississippi in a social media post. "Instead, this ruling casts shame and humiliation on a day that should be focused on joy and pride."

Graduation at Harrison Central High School — a public high school in Gulfport, Mississippi with more than 1,500 students — was scheduled to take place Saturday evening at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum, according to the district's website.

A request for comment to administrators at Harrison Central High School was not returned immediately.

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