Gina Mei
April 06, 2015 2:24 pm

Claudetteia Love, an openly gay student at Carroll High School in Monroe, Louisiana, is taking a powerful stand against her school’s gender-conforming policies. She’s boycotting her senior prom after the school said she would not be allowed to wear a tuxedo to the event.

As a straight-A student and a part of her school’s prestigious medical magnet program, the promise of prom had felt extra sweet for Love — a highly-anticipated celebration of her school achievements and a fun night out with her closest friends. That she should not be allowed to wear a tux to prom was a devastating blow. She even started a petition to protest the decision, signed by her classmates, but it apparently went ignored and unacknowledged by faculty.

While the school claims the decision was simply a matter of dress code violation, according to the News-Star, Love believes it was something much bigger: an attack on her sexuality.

“It hurt my feelings,” Love told the New York Daily News today about her school’s decision. “The four years I’ve been there I’ve always dressed the way I dress. I’ve always been open. And no one has had a problem with it. But when the time comes around to celebrate everything I accomplished in high school — I was told that I couldn’t do it because of the way I am.”

Seeking insight into their decision, Love’s mom told the News-Star she spoke with the principal of the school, who said that some of the teacher chaperones refused to work the event if there would be a girl in a tuxedo.

If this is the case, it’s an incredibly narrow-minded approach to self-expression, sexuality, and gender — and very disappointing to hear as an excuse for the school’s decision. Women; those who are gender non-conforming; and anyone who identifies as LGBTQ are all too often policed for their clothing choices (amongst, of course, many other things). That the school would feed into this, rather than fight it, contributes to a greater problem within a biased, victim-blaming culture. Clothing should always be a personal choice and a personal means of expression, and this is no exception.

“I feel like [the principal is] taking his values and throwing them on my daughter because of what her preference is and what she represents,” Love’s mom told The News-Star.

If a tuxedo is what makes Love feel best about herself, if that is her version of the perfect prom ensemble — who is anyone to deny her wearing it? By rejecting her sartorial choice, the school is, in fact, rejecting Love’s identity.

But rather than rally her efforts into getting approval for her own prom, Love hopes to make a difference for future students instead.

“There are other girls in lower grades than me, and I want for them when they come up to not to have to feel like they aren’t accepted,” Love said. “I don’t want them to feel like they are less of a person because people don’t accept them.”

And, excitingly, it seems like Love is already making waves. Since her story went viral, she’s inspired new online petitions and the support of many of her classmates—who plan to join Love in skipping prom as a show of solidarity.

Now, even school board members are coming to her defense. When Rodney McFarland, the Monroe City School Board President, heard about her debacle, he decided to intervene on Love’s behalf and investigate further into Carroll High’s decision.

“As school board president, I don’t agree with Carroll banning her from her prom just because of what she wants to wear — that’s discrimination,” he told the News-Star. “As far as I know there is no Monroe City School Board policy saying what someone has to wear to attend the prom. You can’t just go making up policies.”

It’s awesome to see Love’s concerns be taken as seriously as they should be. And while Love and her friends won’t be attending prom this year, she has hope for the future.

There are people in the world that won’t accept you,” she concluded, “but they don’t have to be so judgmental and make you feel like you’re less of a person and that you shouldn’t express yourself.”

We totally agree — and we couldn’t admire Love more for taking a stand so future students can express themselves exactly as they choose.

(Image via.)

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