SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP) — A San Francisco teen girl who chose to wear a tuxedo for her senior picture is allegedly being discriminated against over the choice.
Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory student Jessica Urbina’s photo will not be included in the yearbook, or have her picture shown at graduation, according to the girl’s family.READ MORE: Fast-Moving Fawn Fire Near Shasta Lake Grows To 1,200 Acres; Evacuations Orders Expanded
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The tuxedo apparently violated the dress code of the school which is administered by the Archdiocese of San Francisco.
Jessica had her portrait taken last fall and elected to wear the tuxedo jacket and black bow-tie made available to boys instead of the black off-the-shoulder drape offered to girls.
Principal Gary Cannon told reporters that the controversy was a good learning opportunity for students but stressed that Sacred Heart is run in accordance with Roman Catholic Church teachings.
“Straight, gay, bi, transgender, they are all welcome in Sacred Heart Cathedral and at the same time we’re going to be clear in terms of being a Catholic institution and what the Catholic Church teaches on how do we live out that faith in a meaningful way,” Cannon said.
Ilona Turner, legal director of the Transgender Law Center in Oakland, said that if Sacred Heart receives state funds it could be violating a new law that prohibits schools from denying students access to sex-segregated activities and programs on the basis of their gender identity or a gender non-conforming appearance.
“This appears to be a clear case of discrimination based on gender expression and discrimination based on sex,” Turner said. “They are saying that boys can wear a tuxedo in their photos and girls cannot.”READ MORE: 'Highway Slingshot Shooter' Using Ball Bearings To Vandalize Windows Along San Jose's Guadalupe Freeway
The exclusion of Jessica’s portrait also could violate Title IX, the federal law that bans gender discrimination at schools, she said.
On the website post titled “Saluting Our Students,” Sacred Heart said:
As we prepare to pass out yearbooks it is always regretful when a student portrait is omitted for any reason. As a community we will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that all students are included in the future.
We want to reassure our community that all graduating seniors are represented in the commencement program.
Urbina’s brother says the school has scheduled a meeting with the student to discuss the matter.
Students at SHC planned to wear ties to school Friday in support of Urbina.
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