INDIANAPOLIS, IN -- A federal judge's last-minute ruling allowed a male high school senior to attend his prom the way he wanted: in women's clothing, the Associated Press reported today.

Arlington High School administrators tried to prevent Dale Stewart from wearing a black formal dress to the prom because they said it violated the school's dress code.

But a federal judge in Indianapolis ruled that Stewart's decision to wear the dress was a protected form of speech.

“Dale had a First Amendment interest in expressing himself and the school had not shown a reason to stop that from occurring,” said Kenneth J. Falk, Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana.

The ACLU said it receives numerous dress code complaints every year during prom and graduation season. In 1996, a principal in Virginia said that a female student could not attend her high school graduation if she wore pants. The ACLU successfully defended the student. (See ACLU newswire at /news/w051096a.html.

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