Tuesday, August 04, 2009

'Jeremy's' Compensation For Jacked Up Guam Prom Denied

Remember 'Jeremy', the gay student on Guam who was denied entry to his prom because he was wearing a dress while female students were allowed to enter wearing tuxedos?

Jeremy's quest for getting reimbursement for the $400 spent getting ready for that aborted prom night at George Washington High School has been denied.

This tempest is also occurring as Guam's legislature is embroiled in a contentious debate over whether to allow same gender unions. The US Western Pacific island territory, whose slogan is 'Where America's Day Begins', decriminalized homosexuality in 1979.

It also has laws in place banning all discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Jeremy identifies as gay instead of trans, and told KUAM-TV News he felt discriminated against by school officials.

"I said, 'Where does it state in this rule in this paper that there's no cross-dressing, no individualism and no opposite genders? It doesn't say anything'. And that's wrong," he said.

Jeremy recently met with school officials about the matter to demand a refund on his ticket and on the items he purchased for the event, as well as a public apology. He says the over $400 he spent on clothes, shoes, hair, nails and makeup getting ready for the prom all went to waste because he wasn't allowed to attend.

While they granted the refund for his ticket, the school has balked at the refund for the items Jeremy purchased and the public apology.

George Washington High School principal Begona Flores stated: There's no need to make a public apology, because we weren't the ones that put it out in the public. He was the one that did so. There's no need for a public apology from any of us, according to legal counsel."

Flores then let her homophobia and transphobia seep into the comment by adding: "He knew the attire. This is for male, this is for female. And he made the conscious decision to buy something else. So why should we be responsible? You cannot pick and chose when you want to be. You want to be this, then not this time. When you start picking and choosing, there's no consistency here. And so we cannot blame other people because when I see Jeremy here, he's a boy."

Jeremy has apparently dressed in female clothing and expressed his gender as female while in school, so school personnel say they were not unreasonably surprised when he arrived at the prom in a gown.

All Jeremy wants is fairness in the system. He wishes to ensure all people are treated the same and not differently because of their sexuality.

Flores insists that it is the decision of the Department of Education and the Guam Education Policy Board to come up with any trans specific policies to ensure this doesn't happen again.

But she added: "I am not going to personally put myself in that position (of drafting a policy) because I don't believe in it. I don't believe in it because I have my own (personal) beliefs and I am not going to deviate from them."

Ms. Flores, I believe your personal beliefs are why you're so intransigent on giving Jeremy a refund on the money spent and an apology for your staff's heavy handed and inconsistent actions that evening.

If you and the Guam school board end up in court and suffering an adverse legal verdict directing you to pay more than the $400 Jeremy's request plus still have to apologize, you'll have no one to blame but yourself.

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