The ACLU is suing Ceara Sturgis‘s high school for not publishing her photo in their yearbook because she wore a tuxedo in her portrait. They filed suit against the Copiah County School District earlier this year, citing discrimination. Today, the school responded by saying the lawsuit should be thrown out because Ceara was photographed wearing a bikini to a school-sponsored pool party.
First, let it be known she was wearing board shorts as well, but that is pretty much besides the point. Here’s what the school district said in their statement:
It is hard to conceive of an item of clothing more sexualizing and feminine than a bikini. … Sturgis has no constitutional right to be included on the senior portrait page of the yearbook in a tuxedo.
Even if Ceara wore a bikini under her tuxedo, their point is moot. Not including her photo in the yearbook was the issue. But if you want to argue that Ceara wore something deemed feminine, I suggest the school district take a look at the swimsuit options for butch or more masculine women available. My partner, for one, wears a bikini top under her tank top and bottoms under her board shorts. She hasn’t found anything else that makes her feel comfortable. In fact, the bikini still makes her feel uncomfortable, but there just aren’t a lot of choices when it comes to swimming attire.
The fact that the school district would even think that pointing out a photo of Ceara in a bikini is proof that they are not in the wrong is despicable, and leaves them open to all kinds of scrutiny. If a girl wanted to be photographed in a revealing tube top and a mini-skirt, would they later bring out photos of her wearing a sweat suit, looking perfectly happy? Or if a boy wore wore a dress in his photo, would they later locate an image of him in jeans? Actually, they probably would do that. It’s almost inconceivable, but true.
What do they gain out of leaving Ceara out of the yearbook? Nothing except controversy, and rightfully so. By threatening Ceara with a “feminine” photo of her, they are not only insulting her, but insulting people everywhere whose gender doesn’t fit inside the “norm.” Luckily Ceara and the ACLU will not back down, and these allegations are only adding salt to the wound, giving them even more reason to want to fight against the ridiculousness that is this “photographic proof” they offer in their defense.
Ceara has every right to wear a tuxedo in her yearbook photo; just as much right as this school district has to voice their own opinions, unfortunately. But here’s hoping the judge will see that Ceara has only been harmed further by their insensitive statements.