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Copyright (c) 2012 Jefferson Law Book Company
Journal of Law & Education

CHALK TALKS: Eliminating Gender Stereotypes in Public School Dress Codes: The Necessity of Respecting Personal Preference

January, 2012

Journal of Law & Education

41 J.L. & Educ. 251


Natalie Smith


Ceara Sturgis was an honor student and a member of several sports teams and organizations at her high school in Wesson Mississippi, where she attended for her entire primary (K-12) education. Ceara is a popular student, academically accomplished, and openly gay. During her senior year, when it came time to take yearbook photos, Ceara was informed that the students were required to wear formal attire in their senior portraits. Male students were required to wear tuxedos and female students were required to wear drapes, which gives the appearance of a dress. At the photography studio, Ceara initially posed in the drape, but was extremely uncomfortable and self-conscious. Ceara consistently dresses in clothing traditionally associated with the male gender, and having to now wear such "feminine" clothing made her deeply uncomfortable. Witnessing her discomfort, the photographer allowed Ceara to instead wear the tuxedo, which gave Ceara immediate relief.

Months later when Ceara received her yearbook, she flipped through the pages to discover that her photo was nowhere to be found. Because of her choice of clothing the school administration had refused to print Ceara's photo, or even her name, in the senior yearbook. 1

Adolescence is a peculiar and important stage in the development of self-identity. It is the time at which we begin to define ourselves, how we relate to others, and how we fit within the world around us. One very important way in which we present ourselves to the world is through ...
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