Tuesday, February 26 2013 1:21 PM EST2013-02-26 18:21:51 GMT
(WMC-TV) – Controversy is brewing in North Mississippi over a student's decision to come out as a transgender. "It was a big topic in the classrooms, everywhere, everyone has their own opinion," SouthMore >>
Controversy is brewing in North Mississippi over a student's decision to come out as a transgender.More >>
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(WMC-TV) - The controversy over a transgender student at South Panola High School continues and this time, students are protesting.
About 30 to 40 students at the school say they were not allowed inside Wednesday because they were wearing gym shorts and sweatpants.
The kids violated the dress code in an effort to tell school officials that the special treatment of the transgender student is unfair. The kids say she is violating the dress code by not wearing clothing appropriate for her gender.
The student, who we are identifying only as "Leah" because she is a minor, was born male. The student recently came out and announced her transition to a female. That is when she began dressing to match the gender to which she is transitioning.
"The first step in that is really to start dressing according to your gender and today [Monday] was about going to school and being able to be the person that she is," said Bear Atwood, legal director for Mississippi American Civil Liberties Union told Action News 5 earlier this week.
Students are protesting Wednesday because they feel they are now being discriminated against because the transgender student is breaking the school's dress code and they are being punished for doing the same thing.
One of the students involved in the protest says it all boils down to rules.
"Told us, 'Everybody that has on jogging pants, follow us.' So we went to the band hall," said senior Logan Roberson. He says all of the students who violated the dress code were forced to change their clothes.
Roberson and parents say if Leah can dress in female clothing when she is still technically a man, they should be able to wear sweat pants and gym shorts.
"That to me is a double standard. What one rule goes for one, one rule goes for all," said parent Allen Jones.
The student handbook states, "Students will dress in conformity with accepted community standards. No student will dress in a manner which will cause other students to be distracted. Students are also expected to wear clothing in keeping with their gender. Sweat pants or athletic gear are not allowed."
"How distracting is it for you walk down the hallway and see a boy you've known since kindergarten, now a girl, wearing high heels walking, that's distracting to you," continued Roberson.
School leaders say Leah is not violating the school dress code. They say she is now a female and she dresses like one.
Action News 5's call to Leah's ACLU attorney was not returned Wednesday.
School leaders say they are in the process of changing the district's dress code.