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Is There a Point Where Student Cross-Dressing Really Is Too Distracting For School?

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Because there are no hard numbers tracking this sort of thing, the NYT‘s Jan Hoffman must resort to the typical Sunday Styles trend story territory when she reports that a “growing number” of high school teens are abandoning gender norms in their dress. But with folks like Ceara Sturgis and Jonathan Escobar (pictured) making news, sure, we can believe it. And so begs the question: With this growing “trend,” just how much is too much before schools begin dictating what’s acceptable level of gender exploration?

You won’t learn much new from Hoffman’s piece, aside from new anecdotal references from across the country, but we’re pleased to see a few words given to the risks associated with kids cross-dressing in school. Namely, harassment, teasing, and sometimes murder.

But it’s a good read for parents and educators, particularly those who don’t understand why students have to act out their “private identity issues” in the hallways of school. Oh, we don’t know … perhaps it’s because it’s these very schools fostering an environment of queer-phobia, where gender norms are reinforced, and those who don’t fit into them are ridiculed by students and teachers alike?

In some districts, administrators seek to define the line between classroom distraction and the student’s need for self-expression. A few years ago, when Dr. Alan Storm was assistant superintendent at Sunnyside Unified School District in Tucson, he oversaw legal and disciplinary matters.

Principals would ask him about dress code gender cases: “They’d say, ‘Johnny just showed up in a cutoff top! Should I suspend the kid or make him change his clothes?’ ” Dr. Storm recalled. “And I’d say, ‘Is there a bare midriff?’ ‘No.’ ‘Then it doesn’t violate your dress code. You have no right to make the kid change his clothes. But it’s your absolute policy to keep the kid safe.’ ”

Dr. Storm, now superintendent of a technological program for high school students throughout Pima County, Ariz., helped draft antidiscrimination policies that protect gender expression and sexual orientation, since adopted by some Tucson districts.

Such policies have become woven into the social fabric of Rincon High School, said Brenda Kazen, a school counselor: “Gender expression is very fluid here.” Some boys have worn makeup and pink frilly scarves; girls wear big T-shirts, long basketball shorts — and look like male gang members, she said. Moreover, the student population includes immigrants from more than three dozen countries. “Our kids are just used to seeing different things, and they’re O.K. with it,” Ms. Kazen said.

Yet acceptance is hardly unilateral among teenagers, much less adults.

“There are other places where there are real safety issues,” said Barbara Risman, a sociologist at the University of Illinois who studies adolescent gender identity. “Most boys still very much feel the need to repress whole parts of themselves to avoid peer harassment.”

We’re on board with giving administrators the right to keep schools free from distractions so students can accomplish what they’re there for: to learn. But maybe if teachers and faculty reinforced a different idea — that male students who want to wear long wigs and heels, or female students who want to wear short hair and opt for pants instead of skirts in their school uniforms, are not “weird” — the school day wouldn’t be filled with attention-seeking students, but acceptance-seeking young adults.

By:           editor editor
On:           Nov 9, 2009
Tagged: , , ,
  • 15 Comments
    • j
      j

      Bravo Queerty!

      Nov 9, 2009 at 12:31 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • reason
      reason

      I think Queerty is being naive, and making an error of believing that the students are going to change their behavior just because the administration tells them to do so. Kids have been told to behave and harsh punishments have been enacted, but violence in schools is still out of control. The kids are only going to change if society changes. Schools should have a basic unisex uniform.

      Nov 9, 2009 at 3:06 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Hall Monitor
      Hall Monitor

      Hey, how about this idea- Why don’t schools start worry about hiring good teachers and providing a decent education, rather than what teenagers wear to class?

      Nov 9, 2009 at 7:36 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Hall Monitor
      Hall Monitor

      You’ll find all the crazy stories from our schools at http://detentionslip.org.

      Nov 9, 2009 at 7:37 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Joey
      Joey

      “Is There a Point Where Student Cross-Dressing Really Is Too Distracting For School?”

      No, there isn’t. Next question plz.

      Nov 9, 2009 at 7:39 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kropotkin
      Kropotkin

      I find infuriating that in many of these cases these kids are sent home or expelled for “causing a distraction” while the kids who are often verbally and physically abusing them face no consequences.

      Nov 9, 2009 at 10:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Distingué Traces
      Distingué Traces

      ITP:

      The word “unilateral” mistakenly used as a synonym for “unanimous” by the fucking New York Times.

      Nov 10, 2009 at 1:42 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • BelVivDevoe
      BelVivDevoe

      this queen is pathetic…

      Nov 10, 2009 at 11:24 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • AlwaysGay
      AlwaysGay

      Getting good grades and getting into college should be your number one priority not what to wear.

      Nov 10, 2009 at 12:50 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Scully Johnston
      Scully Johnston

      fuck crossdressing we should bang.

      Nov 25, 2009 at 9:34 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Scully Johnston
      Scully Johnston

      I hoped also saying that had hates the black. They can see their night of darkness compared to you, and is the common big penis. I’ m envies my work, and, unfortunately, a spot, but I in the size the hope am the similar 9 inches…

      Nov 25, 2009 at 9:35 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Summer
      Summer

      My high school has an annual crossdressing day. :) ofcourse no one is forced to wear clothes they don’t want to, but most of the students are crossdressing that day. I don’t think we have our teachers approval, but during the years it just became a tradition and i think our teachers and headmaster are looking forward to it as well. :D I remember my brother woke up hours before the school started, just to do the make up and hair. And he looked really stunning in a dress. Even the teachers and our mom were praising him.

      But this school isn’t in U.S, it’s in a really small town in Finland. Only 15km from Russia, where we would get in jail or killed because of doing this. Funny how attitudes can change in such a small distance. :)

      Jan 15, 2010 at 5:14 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jason
      jason

      Note how women are allowed to wear jeans and no-one accuses them of cross-dressing. Yet a man can’t put on a dress without having all sorts of derision come his way.

      My view is that women sustain the double standard. It’s women who are largely to blame.

      Jan 15, 2010 at 6:18 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • CJ
      CJ

      At my high school we used to have a beauty pageant where guys would dress up as girls. Girls would dress up in suits and stuff and go as their escorts. Everyone looked forward to it and had a good time.

      Oh, btw… this was a high school in Alabama.

      Teenagers are more open-minded than administrators would like to admit. There were many openly gay girls and boys in that school and people didn’t bash them. In fact, people defended them. There are places where safety is a real concern, but I don’t think there are as many as administrators and lawmakers think.

      Jan 23, 2010 at 12:36 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • victor escobar
      victor escobar

      i’m just me !!but what the hell jonathan loock’s really good !! fuck every one else!!

      Feb 18, 2010 at 7:21 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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