Students at San Francisco’s Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep school have taken to social media to protest the school’s decision to remove 18-year-old senior Jessica Urbina’s photo from the yearbook, because the tuxedo she’s wearing apparently violates the school’s conservative dress code policy.
According to school administrators, “male” students are required to wear tuxedos in their senior portraits, and “females” are required to wear dresses. In response to Urbina’s supposed “violation” of the rules, Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep decided to pull her photo from the yearbook altogether and refuses to display it when she receives her diploma at graduation.
Strangely enough, the school did allow Jessica to wear a tuxedo to this year’s prom, which she attended with her girlfriend Katie without incident.
Determined to expose the school for their discriminatory dress code policies, Urbina’s brother Michael launched a social protest on Twitter, encouraging students to wear colorful bow ties in solidarity with his sister on Friday.
Principal Gary Cannon told reporters that the decision was not motivated by Jessica’s sexuality: “Straight, gay, bi, transgender, all that. They’re all welcome at Sacred Heart Cathedral, and at the same time we’re going to be clear in terms of being a Catholic institution what the Catholic church teaches and how do we live out that faith in a meaningful way, and in a supportive way with all of our students.”
The school has issued a non-apology, which conveniently avoids the fact that the decision has not been reversed, and that the entire senior class will receive 2013-2014 yearbooks that do not include Jessica Urbina’s senior portrait:
We are deeply proud of our students at Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory. It is a special time of year as we honor our seniors for their many accomplishments and for their countless contributions to the life of our school and community.
As we prepare to pass out yearbooks it is always regretful when a student portrait is omitted for any reason. As a community we will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that all students are included in the future.
We want to reassure our community that all graduating seniors are represented in the commencement program.
Check out the students standing in solidarity with Urbina on Twitter with the hashtag #JessicasTux:
— ACLU of Northern CA (@ACLU_NorCal) May 16, 2014