A Louisiana school district permitted 19-year-old transgender student Kami Phan’s photos to stay in a school yearbook despite the principal’s objection.
Caddo Parish School District also allowed Pham to defy Principal Jeff Roberts’ other restriction and walk — wearing makeup, heels, and a wig — at the Southwood High School graduation, the Shreveport Times reported.
Pham attended the meeting where the school board made the decision and wrote on Facebook, “I won the battle!!”Screenshot/ThinkProgress
Roberts argued that the yearbook photos violated the school dress code because they contained “feminine attire” despite Pham’s birth certificate reading male.Screenshot/ThinkProgress.org
In a statement, the school district defended Pham as exercising a First Amendment right for students to express themselves:
Recently allegations have been made concerning the rights of transgender students at Southwood High School and schools in our district. While federal and state law prohibits the district commenting on individual student cases, the district’s position is clear: Caddo Parish stands by the First Amendment right of students to express themselves and that belief is supported within the Caddo Parish School Board’s approved dress code policy. This expression is without regard to race, color, religion, age, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.
The dress code, as Independent Journal Review previously noted, didn’t explicitly bar students from wearing clothes that conflicted with their gender.
But it did give principals the ability to “adjust the dress code to fit unique situations as long as the decision does not interfere with the requirements of Title IX.”
Although liberal outlet ThinkProgress suggested Roberts’ decision did violate Title IX — a federal provision that prohibits sex-based discrimination in education — the Education Department previously suggested the contrary.
When commenting on the controversy over transgender individuals using opposite sex bathrooms, a department spokeswoman said, “Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, not gender identity.”