JACKSON, Miss. (CN) – An honor student says her high school refused to put her senior picture in the yearbook because she wore a tuxedo for her photo, rather than the “scoop-necked drape” that the school wants its female students to wear. She seeks damages for discrimination and civil rights violations, in Federal Court.
Ceara Lynn Sturgis, a 2010 graduate of Wesson Attendance Center, played in the school band and its soccer, softball and basketball teams. In her federal complaint, Sturgis says that though she “identifies as a female, she feels deeply uncomfortable in clothing such as dresses and skirts” so wears more “masculine” clothing, with her hair cut short, “in a style that is popular among teen-age boys.”
Sturgis says she felt uncomfortable in the “drape” and asked to be photographed in a tuxedo for her yearbook picture. But the Wesson principal, co-defendant Ronald Greer, refused, saying, “Tuxes for boys, drapes for girls,” according to the complaint.
Sturgis claims the assistant superintendent said he could not see why Sturgis should not be allowed to wear a tuxedo in the portrait, but on the day the photographs were to be turned in, a district employee contacted Sturgis and her mother and said the school district had talked to lawyers, and the picture would not be included in the yearbook.
Sturgis says that because she was graduating, the 2010 yearbook “was especially great to Ceara, since it was the last opportunity to capture the memories of her high school experience.”
She says she was “extremely upset” that not only was her photo missing from the senior portraits, but also her name.
She seeks damages for sex discrimination and civil rights violations, from the Copiah County School District, principal Greer and Superintendent Rickey Clopton.
She is represented by Bear Atwood with the American Civil Liberties Union.