Blog of Rights

Support Ceara Sturgis: Yearbooks Must Include Everyone

By Suzanne Ito, ACLU at 2:43pm

It was just last month that we settled our case against the Itawamba County School District in Mississippi for discriminating against Constance McMillen. As you'll recall, the school cancelled prom rather than let Constance wear a tuxedo and take her girlfriend as her date.

We find ourselves with a bit of déjà vu. Yesterday, the ACLU LGBT Project and the ACLU of Mississippi filed a lawsuit against another Mississippi high school, Wesson Attendance Center, for excluding Ceara Sturgis’ name and senior portrait from the yearbook rather than publish a photo of her in a tuxedo. Our lawsuit charges that Ceara was unfairly discriminated against based on her sex and unfair gender stereotypes.

As you might recall, in some high school yearbook portraits, boys wear tuxedos, and girls wear "the drape," a piece of fabric draped across the chest to look like dress. Ceara, who's worn boys' clothes all her life, tried posing with the drape, but felt extremely uncomfortable and had her mother request that she wear the tuxedo instead. The yearbook photographer permitted Ceara to wear a tux. But after the portrait was taken, the principal told Ceara that he would not allow the photo to be published. Despite efforts to resolve the issue by Ceara’s mother and the ACLU, Ceara received her yearbook without her portrait, or even her name, included in the senior class portrait section.

This is no way to treat an honor student who's attended Wesson since kindergarten.

Our lawsuit charges Ceara’s rights were violated under Title IX, which prohibits discrimination based on sex and sex stereotypes, and the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection.

More than 400,000 people showed their support for Constance as she challenged her school's discriminatory policy. Now show Ceara your support by joining her Facebook page.

And if you haven't already, take action by urging your members of Congress to pass the Student Nondiscrimination Act.

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