Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Aldine Nimitz Trans Student Sent Home

As you long time TransGriot readers know, I am a proud Houstonian and a proud Texan as well. Being trans doesn't make me any less a Texan except in the eyes of the Texas GOP and ignorant Lone Star Bible thumpers.

Houston is the largest city in the Lone Star State with over 2 million residents. It is a proud, diverse, international city poised today to possibly elect a lesbian mayor. But that diversity at times does not extend to my fellow trans people, as the Izza Lopez case I documented last year painfully points out.

One of the major reasons I left home in 2001 is because of the lack of transgender rights protection in my home state and Harris County. It figures that Dallas and Austin passed it not long after my relocation to Kentucky.

In the city of Houston, we're protected only if you're employed by the city of Houston or are working for a Fortune 500 company that has corporate policies protecting trans workers.

Got sent an email about this story by Stephanie Stevens, our esteemed Transgender News compiler.

It's a KHOU-TV 11 News story about Aldine Nimitz High senior O'Rhonde Chapman, another trans teen who is at home instead of getting her 'ejumacation' because of dress code drama.

Since the original story has violations of the AP Stylebook in it, per TransGriot policy, I'm rewriting the original Courtney Zubowski story to be more respectful to Ms. Chapman.


A Nimitz High School senior says she’s being discriminated against because of her gender presentation.

17 year old O’Rhonde Chapman says, “I wear women’s clothing every day”

But Monday was the first time Chapman wore a wig and stiletto heels to school. The principal told her to change her clothing or go home. Chapman was told she was in violation of the school’s dress code policy.

“I would like to be able to wear my hair and everything and still be treated the same and have an equal opportunity to have an education, as others do. I ought not be segregated or sent home because of what I have on,” Chapman said. “I am losing out on my education. That upsets me. That upsets me because I don’t go to school to be judged.”

A spokesperson for the Aldine Independent School District said this has nothing to do with discrimination. He says the student violated the school’s dress code. If she follows policy she can return to school. The district wouldn’t release other information about this issue because as of Monday afternoon they had not received permission to do so from the teen’s mother.

The Aldine ISD dress code states that the hair length for boys cannot extend below the bottom of a shirt collar. It also reveals that wigs are not acceptable as a cover-up for hair not meeting the dress code. Even so, civil rights attorney Randall Kallinen believes she shouldn’t have been kicked out of class.

“He’s wearing a wig, there’s no doubt about that,” Kallinen said. “And his hairstyle, his actual hairstyle conforms. So, basically, he fits the criteria for wigs because it doesn’t say anything about hair length of wigs.”

Chapman says she plans to stand by her decision and not return to school unless her hair goes with her.

“I believe in fighting for what’s right,” Chapman said.

TransGriot Note: Trans kids are transitioning at earlier ages and in elementary, middle school and high school. It's past time for school administrators and educators to wake up to the reality that transpeople are here and aren't going away.

That's your cue to come up with common sense rules and regulations that allow us to be our authentic selves and get an education at the same time.

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