Lambda Legal filed papers Dec. 12 in the Northern District Court of Indiana, charging that a Gary, Ind., school violated a student's rights when it stopped a male student from entering his prom because he wore a dress.
Kevin 'K.K.' Logan attended West Side High School and 'expressed a deeply rooted femininity in his appearance and demeanor,' according to a Lambda Legal press release. During this time ( his junior and senior years ) , classmates and teachers supported Logan. However, at the May 19, 2006, senior prom, principal Diane Rouse stretched her arms across the door when Logan attempted to enter, blocking his access to the facility. The press release also stated that classmates and friends 'rallied to his defense to no avail—even though a female student was allowed entrance dressed in a tuxedo.'
Rouse has supported a school policy that bans 'clothing/accessories that advertise sexual orientation, sex, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, profanity [ and ] negative social or negative educational statements.'
Jim Madigan, a staff attorney in Lambda Legal's Midwest Regional Office, told Windy City Times said that the plaintiff's case has two facets. 'There's an aspect [ that ] is the First Amendment,' Madigan said. 'The fact that they shut him out by virtue of wearing this dress—while allowing other students to wear gender-non-conforming clothing, particularly females in tuxedos—basically suggests that it's the message ( associated with allowing a male to wear a dress ) that the principal didn't like. We think that her reaction to that message and the challenge to that convention [ are ] why she shot him down.' The other element, according to Madigan, is 'an issue of whether they violated the rules that prohibit sex and gender discrimination.'
He also said that the legal team representing Logan asked the school district for all of the 'reasons and policies [ regarding ] what happened to [ Logan ] ,' and simply received the policy stated above. 'They sort of, quite frankly, gave us the brush-off,' Madigan said. 'They didn't send any explanatory letter other than [ the ] policy.' Madigan added that subsequent requests to discuss the situation have yielded no response.
When questioned about what is being sought, Madigan responded that they are seeking compensatory and punitive damages as well as a declaration from the court 'that the school's policy is in violation of the First Amendment.'
The case is Logan vs. Gary Community School Corporation et al.
Madigan is handling the case along with Cole Thaler, staff attorney for Lambda Legal's Transgender Rights Project and co-counsel from the Chicago law firm Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal.
Windy City Times contacted the school corporation's superintendent, Dr. Mary Steele-Agee, but had not received a response by the time the newspaper went to press.