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Monday, October 26, 2009

"She's not a troublemaker . . . .


. . . . . . .. she's gay."

The quote above is from Veronica Rodriquez of Jackson, Miss., referring to her 17-year old daughter, Ceara Sturgis, whose high school will not allow her graduation picture to appear in its yearbook because she was photographed wearing a tuxedo.

She is an honor student, trumpet player and goalie on the school's soccer team. Sturgis said she should get to decide how she looks in the senior photo.

"I feel like I'm not important, that the school is dismissing who I am as a gay student and that they don't even care about me. All I want is to be able to be me, and to be included in the yearbook," Sturgis said in a statement.

Veronica Rodriguez, 47, said school officials are trying to force her daughter – who doesn't even own a dress – to appear more feminine.

"The tux is who she is. She wears boys' clothes. She's athletic. She's gay. She's not feminine," said Rodriguez during an interview Thursday at the ACLU office, which has issued a demand letter to Principal Ronald Greer to publish the picture of Sturgis in the tuxedo. The ACLU says it's giving the school until Oct. 23 to respond before pursuing court action, said Kristy L. Bennett, the ACLU's legal director.

You can read more of the story here. I haven't been able to find the outcome of the situation, but I will be following the story.

I know. In the grand scheme of things, given all that's happening in our private lives, in our communities, in this country and in the world, it seems an insignificant case.

But, you know, in the grand scheme of things, it's these stories of personal liberty that are foundational to our lives together.

I don't really care who you are or who you think you are or where your politics are on the broad spectrum of positions or posture. This is not about religious creed or ethnicity or nationality, but it does strike at the heart of "liberty and justice for all."

I don't care how uncomfortable "drag" makes you feel - male or female. As my dear friend, the Large and Lovely Beula Lamont, now numbered among the Saints, once said to me, "Honey, we're all born naked. Everything after that is all drag."

Ceara's case raises, yet again, the complexity of gender roles and perceptions and expectations. Hers is one more brick in the Wall of Sexism and Misogyny which is being dismantled by the truth of that complexity.

We've got a long way to go before we achieve the foundational ideal of "liberty and justice for all." Ceara's courage helps us take one more step on the path, as a nation, to being "a more perfect union."

Today's "Story of the Day" from StoryPeople, one of my favorite blogs is this:
I don't wear stuff to impress
people, she said.
I can't afford it yet.
"All I want is to be able to be me," Ceara said.

Isn't that what any one of us wants, really?

Seems to me that Ceara is paying a very high price to wear a tuxedo in her graduation picture, not to impress, but to be authentic.

That's a price which all of us help her need to afford.

Otherwise, we're all broke.

18 comments:

Josephine- said...

That is blatantly discriminatory. And its bull. I'm hetero, but MY yearbook picture was in jeans, a t-shirt and my varsity jacket. Nothing feminine about it, no one raised a stink. I guess cause I wasn't gay? That is not OK and wow does that boil my blood, thanks for bringing this to our attention Elizabeth.

Wormwood's Doxy said...

I've sent an e-mail to the principal and copied the district superintendent. If anyone else is so inclined, here's the contact info:

Ronald Greer (principal): rdgreer@copiah.k12.ms.us

Rickey Clopton (Superintendent):
rclopton@copiah.k12.ms.us

I simply pointed out that they will lose if the ACLU takes them to court--and wouldn't it be better to spend those dollars on educating the children of Coppiah County than spending it on lawyer's fees? It's not as if Mississippi is overflowing with money for education (or doing all that well with the money they DO have...but that's another post for another day).

Seems to me that they ought to be focusing on what they were hired to do---educate children, not use their position to impose their outmoded ideas on those under their "care."

Cheers,
Doxy

Joie said...

I don't understand how "public" schools can do this. I assume it's a public school. A young woman in my congregation who, as far as I know is not gay but hates to dress up and why does sexuality matter here anyway, didn't want to wear a dress to prom. She would have preferred dressy pants. The public school wouldn't allow it. Our tax dollars at work for such ignorance.

Bill said...

As poignant as this story is, it’s still the tip of the iceberg. In our society (at least in the Blue States) it is fairly acceptable for a woman to dress as a man. The reverse is not true. A man literally takes his life in his hands should he choose to identify himself as herself. Men who do this have to be very careful where they go and who sees them. There are safe places such as bars and clubs that are TG/CD friendly, but getting there could invite disaster. Many go there dressed in “drab” (male clothing) and then change to “drag” (female clothing) once they are safely inside and with friends. They socialize for a while and then begin the transition back to the male world, a world they were born into but a world they can’t bear. I’ve met people from all walks of life. Doctors, lawyers, police, fire, you name it. Their careers dangle from a thread. The odd thing is that most of them don’t identify themselves as Gay. Most are married. They talk about such things as: ” I think my wife is suspicious.” - “My wife say’s she’s ok with it as long as I don’t do it at home” – “ What do I tell the kids if they find out” - “Can you recommend a good shrink”, and so forth. To see the pain in their eyes as they tell these stories is enough to break your heart.
I recently talked to a friend whose wife died some years ago. He(she) is retired. He raised four kids and sent them all to college. Now he dresses full time as a woman. He told his children but they are keeping it from his(her) grandchildren. His(her) kids say that they are alright with it. Considering he(she) raised them and gave them a really good start in life, I think that’s the least they could do.

Those men and women who make the ultimate decision to endure medical procedures to reverse what nature didn’t get it right, have to go through years of therapy just to be able to put their lives in the hands of a surgeon. If we ask ourselves, “Why would anybody endure this?”, the answer is that life as handed out isn’t life at all if it is one long continuous burden just to look in the mirror.

it's margaret said...

The College of William and Mary, a prestigious and moderately conservative school here in Virginia has elected a young woman as their Homecoming Queen. ....She's transgendered. And the school welcomed the election as a sign of their diversity.

If it can happen here --there's hope.

I'm gonna dress in my drag... put on my pants and go to the gym and workout like the jock I used to be. At the Jewish Community Center... and pray and give thanks to God for the both of them.

If it can happen here --there's hope.

Two Auntees said...

The picture of Ceara is beautiful. This is who she is. The school needs to educate themselves on gender identity. I am glad the ACLU is helping this young woman.

susankay said...

We need to ditch the terms "feminine" and "masculine" or at least realize that feminine does not equal "fluffy" and masculine does not equal "non-fluffy"

Kirkepiscatoid said...

What is it, that every year about this time of year, the "big news item" is a girl in a tuxedo? Can't we do better than that for news stories?

MadPriest said...

I agree with what you say, Lisbeth, except the "Hers is one more brink (sic) in the Wall of Sexism and Misogyny" bit. As I expect a lad in a frock would receive the same treatment plus far more ridicule and less support from the media, I think this injustice is down to a mixture of homophobia and the need to make people (especially young people) conform to some invented standard.

In fact, I find your comment about "misogyny to be overtly sexist :-)

MadPriest said...

What is it, that every year about this time of year, the "big news item" is a girl in a tuxedo? Can't we do better than that for news stories?

I agree with you there, Kirkepiscatoid . Tuxedos are so boring. Perhaps Lisbeth will agree to run a wet tee shirt competition on her blog. All genders included, of course.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Well, Jonathan, I've determined that, all I need to do to get a rise out of you is to use the word 'misogynist'. Not only is misogyny a very real dynamic, but, as +Gene continues to point out, is the basis of homophobia. Indeed, sexism and misogyny are often used as tools of homophobia.

I understand. You're a Brit, but you are educable. We all love you enough to wait while you catch up.

MadPriest said...

Gene's a clever, old sod. He knows how to get women on his side.

And, if I reacted every time you mentioned misogyny I would be commenting on your blog at least every day.

Kirkepiscatoid said...

Bill brings up a good point. Society is FAR more accepting of a chick in a tux than a guy in a frock. But again, if some fellow wants to do that, who really cares, if he's happy and it makes him feel good, as long as he obeys the standards for female clothing in the office?

Yet, as he points out, in some circles it can get you killed. That "just ain't right," as we say, around here.

The Herald said...

No Betty,

She's an agitator who is either suffering from Oppositional Defiance Disorder or is desperately crying for help. You and your sycophants would be far better served in seeking her healing from sexual brokeness than exploiting her to advance your insidious agenda.

Enough is enough. Change your profession or change your vocation as they are incongruent.

I suppose that as with anything incvonvenient to leftists, this post wil never see the light of day...

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

It's Elizabeth, herald, but you know that, no doubt.
And you, sir or madam, are a bigot.
Always good to bring bigotry into the light of day
for the world to see. Bigoted words, like
cockroaches, tend to scatter when you flip
on the light. Which is why, of course, you
didn't use your real name or reveal your
true identity.

Bigots are always such cowards!

Muthah+ said...

Whew! You pulled the slime out on this one, Elizabeth. The boys get really up tight when you call them on their old boys club, don't they? I always thought it was that whole thing about "publick schools" doncha know. They can wear kilts but a kid can't wear a tux? Cummon!

Dale said...

Oh, it seems like the school would be smart enough to humor her on this one. Sheesh. I personally think uniforms should be mandatory in schools... let students distinguish themselves by genuine means, not by superficial means like clothing. Im a bit surprised that you're taking up such a foolish cause. You usually do better.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Not "taking up a cause" but shedding light on an injustice. Just doing my job, Dale.