Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Gay Ind. teen sues school that wouldn't let him go to prom in a dress


from CourtTV.com:

When Kevin Logan went to his high school prom in 2006, he was hoping it would be a night to remember. What he'll remember, though, will be standing outside in the parking lot while his classmates danced inside.

As Logan walked up to the prom, clad in a pink prom dress, West Side High School Principal Diana Rouse blocked the doorway and refused to let him inside.

Logan, who goes by the name "K.K." and describes himself as a gay bisexual male, filed a suit Dec. 12 against Rouse and the school board, claiming they violated his civil rights by denying him entrance to the prom based on his attire.

"What should have been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Logan to share memories with friends before graduation became an episode of humiliation and exclusion," the suit states.

When contacted by phone, Rouse declined to speak, referring comment to the school board public information spokesperson before hanging up. The school board declined to comment because of the pending litigation.

According to the suit, Logan had long expressed his sexual identity through clothing and makeup at school, and was never punished for it. During the first week of Logan's senior year in high school in Gary, Ind., he was taken to Rouse's office by security guards, where he was questioned about the purse he was wearing. But, he was sent back to class without being disciplined, according to the suit.

In the time leading up to prom, Logan had discussed his prom outfit with the assistant principal and Rouse. Rouse opposed a dress and suggested a pantsuit. However, the assistant principal told Logan he should wear whatever he wanted, according to the suit.

On May 19, 2006, Logan headed to the Avalon Manor in Hobart, Ind., wearing an ankle-length pink prom dress. He walked past the groups of parents and friends taking pictures outside the prom and toward the main door. That's when Rouse stretched her arms across the door, blocking Logan from entering, according to the suit.

Logan claims Rouse ordered him to leave and called security. Humiliated, Logan claims, he walked to the parking lot to take pictures with his friends while everyone else danced inside. As they snapped photos, word spread inside that Logan was not being allowed into the prom. According to the suit, students and teachers came outside to voice their support, with some asking Rouse to change her mind. She refused.

Although Logan was denied entrance, according to his attorney Jim Madigan, a lesbian student was allowed inside the prom wearing a tuxedo-style outfit.

"Society thinks it's OK for women to want to be a little more masculine, but it's not OK for male students to act in a way that is feminine," Madigan told CourtTVnews.com "That double standard really is something that's sort of an old stereotype. It's a double standard that's a remnant of sex discrimination."

Madigan said he contacted the school asking for all the reasons why Logan was denied entrance to the prom. The school cited a community school board policy governing dress code, which prohibits any clothing or accessories that advertise "sexual orientation, sex, drugs, alcohol tobacco, profanity, negative social or negative educational statements."

In addition to unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, Madigan and his client are seeking to have the dress policy ruled unconstitutional on the grounds that it violates the First Amendment.

"You simply cannot tell gay students that anything in their clothing that makes clear that they are gay, lesbian or transgender is inappropriate," Madigan said.

The suit is not only an attempt to justify Logan's right to wear a dress to prom, Madigan said, but is an effort to provide protection to other students who will follow after him.

"A judgment in Logan's favor not only will vindicate the violation of his civil rights but will also protect countless other students whose expression of their sexual orientation or gender identity would otherwise be chilled by Defendants' unconstitutional actions," the suit states.