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San Francisco Catholic High School Apologizes For Snubbing Tuxedo-Wearing Girl’s Senior Portrait

by Carlos E. Castañeda
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Jessica Urbina's senior photo that will not be printed in the yearbook nor shown at graduation because of her wardrobe choice. (Michael Urbina)

Jessica Urbina’s senior photo that will not be printed in the yearbook nor shown at graduation because of her wardrobe choice. (Michael Urbina)

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A San Francisco Catholic high school has apologized to a graduating senior and her family for not including her senior portrait in the school’s yearbook because she was wearing a tuxedo, and will now add it to the yearbook.

Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory said in a public apology on its website the school had not communicated their yearbook portrait policy adequately to Jessica Urbina and her parents, which stipulates that boys wear tuxedos and girls wear an off-the-shoulder drape.

After word of the senior portrait snubbing was revealed, Urbina’s classmates staged a protest by wearing ties and bow ties to school while supporters flooded Twitter with messages of support with the hashtag #JessicasTux.

Friday, Sacred Heart officials announced a change to its senior portrait policy, saying in a statement, “We agree with our students who showed solidarity with their classmate that the current policy regarding senior portraits is not adequate to meet the needs of our families or our mission.”

The statement by President John F. Scudder and Principal Gary Cannon also said that conforming to the senior portrait policy was wrong in Urbina’s case and that the yearbook will have Jessica’s photo pasted in.

As mentioned above, Jessica’s senior portrait will appear in all the same venues as all other senior portraits. The school administration decided to reprint the yearbook to include Jessica’s photo in the portrait section. When we shared this decision with the family, they suggested that because of the love and support shown by her schoolmates over these last few days, Jessica and her family do not want students to wait to receive their yearbooks. Rather than reprinting the yearbooks, therefore, they have suggested other methods to include Jessica’s senior portrait that will allow students to receive the book this week, as scheduled.  We accept this suggestion and honor their request.

The statement also touched on the issue of being a gay or lesbian student in a Catholic school community:

We understand those who are critical of our school and leadership based on the information provided publically [sic]. We are deeply appreciative of both our critics and those who contacted us expressing support and prayers. We also acknowledge the large number of alumni who wrote to share their experiences at SHC, most confirming the positive and supportive atmosphere they found at SHC, especially during the years when they came to an understanding and appreciation of their own sexual orientation and gender identity.

While we believe SHC to be a safe and supportive environment for all, this situation has reminded us that we still have much growth to achieve. While many gay and lesbian alumni and students have commented on the inclusive, supportive aspect of our school community, others have remarked on some prejudice that still exists. As a school, we must better learn how to support our students who are navigating issues of gender identity.

READ THE COMPLETE APOLOGY: Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory Apology

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