April 4, 2013

School Affirmed Student's Rights Following ACLU Involvement

April 4, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

HOUSTON – In a letter to the American Civil Liberties Union, Spring Independent School District stated that Tony Zamazal, a transgender student at Spring High School, may wear a dress, pump-style shoes, makeup and a wig to the school prom on May 11. A school administrator previously told Zamazal that wearing a dress would be "unacceptable" because boys have to wear tuxedos and girls must wear dresses.

The school reversed its position after receiving a letter from the national ACLU and the ACLU of Texas explaining that its position was unconstitutional.

"All I wanted was to get to wear a dress to prom, because I wouldn't have felt comfortable at all showing up in a tux," said Zamazal, a 19-year-old senior. "I'm so grateful that my school has agreed to let me be myself on such an important night."

Zamazal first approached an assistant principal at Spring High School in February to ask for permission to wear a dress to the prom. When that request was denied, Zamazal then asked the principal, who said she would have to consult the school board because it would be a "community decision."

"Like every other student, Tony deserves to feel comfortable and be herself at prom," said Amanda Goad, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. "We're glad that Spring ISD has affirmed Tony's First Amendment rights."

The ACLU sent a letter to the principal on March 18, explaining that both federal law and the U.S. Constitution protect Zamazal's right to wear a dress to prom. The school district responded last week and affirmed that it will allow Zamazal to attend the prom in the formal clothing of her choice.

"Tony has the right under both federal statutes and the U.S. Constitution to express her gender identity," said Adriana Pinon, senior staff attorney with the ACLU of Texas. "Students' legal rights aren't something that public schools get to put up to a vote. We're happy to see the school do the right thing."

The letter to the school can be seen at:
aclu.org/lgbt-rights/aclu-letter-spring-high-school

The school's response can be viewed at:
aclu.org/lgbt-rights/spring-high-school-letter-aclu

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