In recent years, a growing number of teenagers have been dressing to articulate — or confound — gender identity and sexual orientation. Certainly they have been confounding school officials, whose responses have ranged from indifference to applause to bans.
-- From "Can a Boy Wear a Skirt to School?" by Jan Hoffman, New York Times 11/8/09
. . . schools are more accepting of unconventional gender expression. In September, a freshman girl at Rincon High School in Tucson who identifies as male was nominated for homecoming prince. Last May, a gay male student at a Los Angeles high school was crowned prom queen.
. . . when officials want to discipline a student whose wardrobe expresses sexual orientation or gender variance, they must consider antidiscrimination policies, mental health factors, community standards and classroom distractions.
. . . educators and psychologists say that more schools will have to address them in the near future. There are 4,118 gay-straight alliance clubs in high schools across the country, which raise awareness of such issues. Gender-boundary questions are even bubbling up in elementary schools, with parents seeking to pave the way for their children, in blogs like acceptingdad.com and labelsareforjars.wordpress.com.
At minimum, more students are trying on their curiosity for size. Typically during “Mix ’n’ Match Day,” at Ramapo High School in Spring Valley, N.Y., students might wear polka dots with stripes, said Diane Schneider, a teacher who is a chairwoman of the Hudson Valley chapter of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. But this year, she said, “about 50 kids came as cross-dressers.”
Jeff Grace, faculty adviser for a gay-straight alliance club at high school in Columbus, Ohio, said he has seen student perceptions change over the last decade.
One student, Mr. Grace recounted, born male and named Jack, has long, straight hair and prefers to be referred to with a female pronoun. Jack is careful not to violate the dress code. She favors tops that are tapered but not revealing, flats, lip gloss.
“One day I heard a student say, ‘Man, there was a girl in the guy’s restroom, standing up using the urinal! What’s up with that?’ ” Mr. Grace recalled.
Bathrooms can be dangerous for transgender students. But the other student replied off-handedly, “That wasn’t a girl. That’s just Jack.”
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