Suffolk’s School Board has introduced a proposal to forbid students to wear cross-gender clothing, a move activists are saying will exacerbate the problems LGBT students must deal with in the school system.
Specifically, the proposal bars “any clothing worn by a student that is not in keeping with a student’s gender and causes a disruption and/or distracts others… or poses a health or safety concern.”
Board Vice Chairwoman Thelma Hinton, a driving force in the introduction of the proposal, said the proposal was inspired by reports of students who wore women’s clothing having to use faculty restrooms. “”My main concern is [the] safety of those individuals,” Hinton told a local Fox affiliate. “Freedom of expression is good, but there is a limitation. Anytime there is a threat upon a child, to me, that’s where you draw the line of freedom of expression.”
At a meeting Thursday night, the School Board resolved to further study the measure; at the same meeting, the Virginia ACLU sent a letter asserting that the proposal would be violate federal law which prohibits discrimination by educational institutions based on sex. School board attorney Wendell Waller, however, said that he believed the board would have legal standing if they implemented the rule. “”This is going to be a challenging thing to do,” he said, according to the Virginian-Pilot. “But… it can be done.”
“It seems that rather than addressing bullying, the school administration is targeting the victim in the situation, and it’s a clear case of victim-blaming,” said Jo Blanton, a Virginia Commonwealth University student and LGBT rights activist.