We’re really proud of Kami Pham and her friends at Southwood High School in Shreveport, Louisiana. Jeff Roberts, the school’s principal, said her senior photo would be removed from the yearbook and that she couldn’t wear a wig, heels or makeup to graduation. But Pham and her friends fought back and got the school board involved, who eventually overturned Roberts’ decision.
Roberts claims Pham’s senior photo violates the school’s dress code. Pham’s outfit of a polo shirt and jeans with light makeup doesn’t match the gender on her birth certificate.
But as it turns out, the school’s dress code as outlined in the student handbook has no such prohibitions. In fact, one of Kami Pham’s friends, Tatjana Cotton, says dress code violations are very rare, calling the principal “very relaxed with dress code. The chance for someone to get in trouble for dress code is the chance for someone to get struck by lightning.”
Cotton added, “If I wore that same outfit, there would be no problem, no one would say anything. So why treat Kami any different just because of what her birth certificate says?”
Pham’s friends set up a Change.org petition calling attention to the principal’s double-standard, and it worked. The petition got over 4,000 signatures, despite Southwood High only having a total enrollment of about 1,400 students.
The school board weighed in yesterday, officially reversing Roberts’ decision. The board released the following statement:
Recently allegations have been made concerning the rights of transgender students at Southwood High School and schools in our district. While federal and state law prohibits the district commenting on individual student cases, the district’s position is clear: Caddo Parish stands by the First Amendment right of students to express themselves and that belief is supported within the Caddo Parish School Board’s approved dress code policy. This expression is without regard to race, color, religion, age, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.