Lambda Legal Challenges Denial of Rights of Feminine Gay Male Student to Wear Dress to Prom
There are ways to write policies that both create rules for student behavior and also respect their rights but this isn't one of them.'
(Gary, IN, December, 12, 2007) — In court papers filed today in the Northern District Court of Indiana, Lambda Legal says that West Side High School violated Kevin "K.K." Logan's First Amendment rights when it barred him from his prom for wearing a dress.
K.K. Logan attended West Side High during his junior and senior year and expressed a deeply rooted femininity in his appearance and demeanor. Both classmates and teachers at the school supported him in his daily attendance dressed in clothes typically associated with girls his age.
However, on May 19, 2006, Principal Diane Rouse stretched her arms across the door of the Senior Prom, blocking Logan's entrance. His classmates and friends rallied to his defense to no avail — even though a female student was allowed entrance dressed in a tuxedo.
Principal Rouse has stood by a school policy that deems inappropriate any "clothing/ accessories that advertise sexual orientation, sex, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, profanity, negative social or negative educational statements."
"The fact that sexual orientation is lumped in with drugs and profanity in the school's dress code is just plain offensive, but even more troublesome is that the whole policy is in violation of students' First Amendment rights," said James P. Madigan, Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal's Midwest Regional Office in Chicago. "There are ways to write policies that both create rules for student behavior and also respect their rights — but this isn't one of them."
Lambda Legal argues that Logan's First Amendment rights were violated, including the freedoms of speech, symbolic action, and expressive conduct. The school district also engaged in unlawful discrimination on the basis of sex and gender.
"I dress this way because it's who I am and how I feel on the inside," says Logan. "Gay and trans students have rights, and they should be treated fairly."
James Madigan, Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal's Midwest Regional Office in Chicago and Cole Thaler, Staff Attorney for Lambda Legal's Transgender Rights Project are handling the case with co-counsel from the law firm of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP in Chicago.
Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.