“Damaging and discriminatory:” Mississippi school district adopts “harmful” dress code policy targeting trans children

The Harrison County School Board, Mississippi, adopted a dress code that mandates trans students to dress according to their birth gender.

The trans girl missed graduation over clothing code

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A transgender girl, known as L.B. for safety reasons, was not allowed to wear a dress for her graduation and missed the event. L.B. said classmates and teachers supported her feminine clothes, with some praising her academic achievements. The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Mississippi filed a lawsuit against the district.

The girl and her family spoke up against the decision

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Talking to The Associated Press, L.B. said, “We deserve rights as humans. And I feel like there’s definitely a stigma toward our community. … It’s very disappointing.”

Special rules 

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The graduate from Harrison Central High School in Gulfport was allowed to use the staff restroom, so she wouldn’t have to use the men’s toilet.

Mom spoke up 

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The future business student has supportive parents, with her mom saying, “She is the most compassionate, caring — I mean, she is a beautiful person inside and out. And we will continue … as long as we have to, to make sure that her story is heard.”

Changes to the dress code

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Following this incident, the district doubled down on dress code requirements. One says, “Boys must wear shorts or pants,” while girls must wear dresses, skirts, or pants.

Consistent with the gender 

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The clothes must be consistent with the gender in the school district’s permanent record or a student’s birth certificate.

Calls for reconsideration

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Human Rights Campaign Mississippi state director, Rob Hill, had a message for schools, “Every kid should feel safe and welcome at school. Transgender kids deserve the opportunity to grow up knowing that they are valued and respected for who they are.”

Harmful policy 

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Hill continued, “This harmful policy will only further alienate and endanger kids across Harrison County who are already struggling with so many challenges today. The school district should reconsider its decision and repeal this damaging and discriminatory approach.”

Singling out transgender students

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The policies, revealed in the Herald Sun, show that Harrison County is the only district that singles out transgender students. But they are not surprising since the state already banned gender-affirming care for minors early in 2023. The district announced the new rules in July on Facebook, urging parents and students to re-read the guidelines.

The updates were posted on Facebook

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The post read, “As you plan for the new school year, please review the 2023-2024 Secondary (7-12) Student Handbook. Changes have been made to the dress code policy and discipline policy. The link below will take you to the handbook on the Harrison County School District webpage. As you are reading the handbook, please review the changes on pages 42-61. We are looking forward to a great school year!”

Mississippi was the first state to ban trans athletes

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In March 2021, Mississippi lawmakers passed legislation that bans transgender student-athletes from competing in women’s and girls’ sports.

The Governor’s statement 

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Governor Tate Reeves shared on X on March 4, 2021, “I will sign our bill to protect young girls from being forced to compete with biological males for athletic opportunities. It’s crazy we have to address it, but the Biden E.O. forced the issue. Adults? That’s on them. But the push for kids to adopt transgenderism is just wrong.”

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