Every spring as the school year comes to a end, young adults in the LGBT community face obstacles. Proms, yearbook photos, graduations, and many other end-of-the-year rituals present issues for LGBT people that others don't have to deal with. This year is no different, as LGBT teens and graduates are continuing to struggle in their fight for equality.
One story of an LGBT teen that has made headlines is that of Jessica Urbina, who chose to wear a tuxedo for her yearbook photo at Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory School in San Francisco, California. Officials at the private school decided to cut the photo from the yearbook and graduation ceremony altogether, as girls were mandated to wear dresses. Afterwards, Jessica's friends, classmates, and even total strangers participated in a campaign of support by wearing neckties, bowties, and posting on Twitter using the hashtag #JessicasTux. Additionally, the school has since apologized for their behavior, admitting they made the wrong decision, and has vowed to change the policy for the future. We can only wait and see what the long-term outcomes of this matter are.
In similar news, out student Taylor Ellis of Sheridan, Arkansas is facing discrimination from school administrators. Ellis was among six students chosen to be profiled in his high school's yearbook, which he used as an opportunity to share his coming out story. Instead of keeping the profile of a gay student in the yearbook, school officials decided to get rid of the section altogether, including the five other profiles. According to them, this was done for Ellis's protection as they didn't want him to get bullied or beat up as a result of his sexuality. Ellis, who came out very publicly about a year ago, tried to assure school staff members that people already knew he was gay and he was perfectly fine with having his profile in the yearbook, but the school remained adamant about cutting the profiles. Because Ellis gave consent and even encouraged the publication of his story, and it still wasn't allowed, this is a blatant case of unwarranted censorship. Though Sheridan High School tried to contend that they had their student's best interest at heart, their actions say that they value the school's image more than their student's well-being and sense of self.
In other areas, high schooler Shafer Rupard of North Carolina was forced to leave her prom because she was wearing pants. Rupard's mother told reporters that her daughter was simply trying to express herself by not wearing a dress or other outfit typically worn at prom. After spending a mere five minutes on the dance floor, Rupard was told to leave because of what she was wearing. Follow-up reading of her school handbook allowed Rupard to inform school officials that there was no dress code for prom. Hopefully this will prevent the school from punishing others for expressing themselves in the future.