Federal Court Says Lambda Legal's Lawsuit Defending First Amendment Rights of Transgender Student Excluded From Prom Can Move Forward
(Gary, Indiana, September 26, 2008) — Late yesterday the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana denied Gary high school's motion to dismiss a case brought by transgender former student Kevin "K.K." Logan, a feminine male who was barred from prom because he wore a dress.
"We are thrilled that K.K. Logan will have a day in court, and that the school's discriminatory policies can be challenged," said Jim Madigan, Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal's Midwest Regional Office in Chicago.
The court held that Logan may challenge the dress code policy as a violation of the First Amendment rights of all Gary students.
In December 2007, Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit on behalf of K.K. Logan challenging a Gary School Corporation policy barring clothing that advertises sexual orientation or indicates that a student's gender is different from the student's sex. Logan argues that the policy violates students' First Amendment freedom of expression. Logan also claims that his exclusion from prom constitutes discrimination on the basis of gender. West Side High School filed a motion to dismiss the case in February 2008 leading to today's ruling.
Students and teachers knew that K.K. Logan was gay for years. During his senior year, Logan attended West Side High expressing a deeply rooted femininity in his appearance and demeanor. At school, Logan wore makeup, accessories and clothing 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 because Logan was wearing a dress. Classmates and friends rallied to Logan's defense to no avail—even though a female student was allowed to attend dressed in a tuxedo.
Principal Rouse enforced a Gary School Corporation policy that forbids any clothing or accessories that "advertise sexual orientation" or "portray the wearer as a person of the opposite gender."
The case will proceed to trial in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana.
The case is Logan vs. Gary Community School Corporation et al.
Jim Madigan, Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal's Midwest Regional Office in Chicago and Cole Thaler, Lambda Legal's Transgender Rights Attorney are handling the case with co-counsel from the law firm of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP in Chicago.