News (USA)

Angry parent ruthlessly defends trans teen who was denied entry to prom for wearing a dress

High school graduates dancing waltz and classical ball dance in dresses and suits on school prom graduation, classical ballroom dancers dancing, waltz, couples quadrille and polonaise
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A transgender teen in Alabama was denied entry to her school’s prom last week for wearing a dress.

Lesa Drake, a parent in Jackson County, Alabama, told local ABC affiliate WAAY 31 that she got a call from the student after Drake told her own son to let her know if he or his friends needed anything while attending Section High School’s prom. The unnamed trans teen asked Drake to walk her into the prom.

Drake said the school’s principal told the trans student that she would not be allowed into the prom unless she changed out of her dress and into slacks.

“I kept asking why. Why can’t she come?” Drake said, adding that the principal responded, “‘Because she’s wearing a dress.”‘

Drake claimed there were other trans students at the prom who were wearing attire that corresponded with their gender identity, but the principal continued to deny the trans student entry, claiming that he’d told her the previous day that she could not attend unless she wore pants.

Drake said the principal cited the school’s student handbook, but when she went home to check the policies she found the student had not committed any violations.

“I looked at the student handbook, and there’s absolutely nothing in it, and there’s nothing in the prom section,” Drake said.  

The Jackson County School District’s 2023–2024 Student/Parent Information Guide, which is available to view online, includes sections on the prom and student “Dress and Appearance.” Neither section mentions appropriate attire in relation to a student’s sex or gender. The prom section merely states, “The prom is a formal event and both students and dates should dress accordingly,” along with guidelines about visible tattoos and piercings.

Drake says a Section Police Department officer was on hand and caught the whole interaction with the school’s principal on body camera. Section High School, the Jackson County school board, and the Section Police Department have still not commented on the incident, but according to WAAY, students and other parents back up Drake’s account.

Drake told WAAY that she was compelled to help because the student in question does not have a support system, and LGBTQ+ students’ mental health should be a priority.

“Who gives a crap about what they wear?” she said. “And these kids, if they’re not seen or heard, kill themselves. You know, would I rather my son wear a dress to prom or off himself? Definitely wear that dress to prom. Who cares? It’s nobody’s business.”

“It was wrong, and that’s why I went,” she added, “And I would do it again. I would.”

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat at The Trans Lifeline (1-877-565-8860) is staffed by trans people and will not contact law enforcement. The Trevor Project provides a safe, judgement-free place to talk for youth via chat, text (678-678), or phone (1-866-488-7386). Help is available at all three resources in English and Spanish.

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