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Transgender High School Student Fights Back

by Jean Ann Esselink on November 14, 2013

in Discrimination,Jean Ann Esselink,News

If I tell you that La Feria, Texas, District Superintendent Rey Villarreal refuses to refer to La Feria High School senior Jeydon Loredo by his male name in any of the correspondence about this incident, you will probably know all you need to know about the discrimination transgender high school senior Jeydon Loredo is facing.

Jeydon was born a female, but always identified as male. He was lucky enough to have a mother who supported her son, and helped him transition. Now he is a young man who will soon leave high school, and he wants to be remembered as the man he is. It is the custom for graduating males to wear tuxedos in their yearbook photos, so that’s what Jeydon wore to have his senior portrait taken. (You can see it on the bottom of this page. I think he looks quite handsome.)

The school board did not share my thumbs up on Jeydon’s portrait.

Superintendent Villarreal notified Jeydon’s mother, Stella Loredo, that Jeydon’s photo violated “community standards” and would not be included in the yearbook. If Jeydon wanted to have his photo published, he would have to wear “feminine attire”, like a “drape or a blouse.” (A drape?) Jeydon’s mother called that pronouncement a “slap in the face.” Superintendent Villarreal told he if they didn’t like it, they could appeal it to the school board.

“I’ve lived here my whole life, and I’ve grown up with the kids here,” Jeydon said. “The yearbook is for the students, not the faculty or the administration. It is a way for us to remember each other.”

So take it to the school board he did. But he did not go alone. Jeydon’s friends and family reached out to The Human Rights Campaign, who began a petition drive, and enlisted the Southern Poverty Law Center to represent Jeydon. Ahead of the board meeting, Jeydon’s lawyers sent a demand letter warning the board that:

“refusing to include the photograph violates the student’s freedom of expression, which is protected by the First Amendment. It also violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, which protects the student from discrimination, as well as Title IX, which bars discrimination on the basis of sex by any education program receiving federal money. Refusing to publish the photograph would even violate the school district’s own anti-discrimination policies.”

When Jeydon appeared before the board, he told them:

“Please allow my community to remember me, and to remember me the way I truly am, in the clothes that reflect me.”

Then his lawyer told them:

“As school board members, you don’t get to decide whether transgender students receive the same rights as students who are not transgender. You must treat Jeydon equally and with the respect he deserves. The fact is, you must allow the tuxedo photo in the yearbook in order to remain in compliance with the law.”

It’s good to have friends who read law books.

The board went into closed session to discuss the matter, and did not immediately rule. We’ll keep you updated on their decision.

txyearbook

 

Flyer HRC Facebook

Jeydon’s photo: Tumblr

 

 

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{ 2 comments }

BJLincoln November 14, 2013 at 12:02 pm

They have not ruled yet? How long before the dead line for the year book? They could just wait it out to screw him over.
Good looking young man. I hope life is better for him outside high school.

Tilghman Lesher November 14, 2013 at 1:37 pm

If the student files a lawsuit prior to the deadline and prevails, the school can be forced to suffer the costs of a reprint of the yearbook, with the corrected photo. Given that the advocacy groups are involved, they're likely to go with such a step The yearbook deadline, though, usually isn't until February or March, so there should be plenty of time.

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