At the behest of civil rights advocates, a female student in Illinois has been granted permission to wear a tuxedo to her high school prom.
Belinda Sanchez, a senior at Proviso East High School, met with Principal Milton Patch last month to discuss her desired attire. According to Sanchez, a lesbian, Patch denied her request and said that he didn't want the prom to become a "sideshow."
Sanchez contacted the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Illinois, which then contacted the school district and said the dress code policy was an example of "gender discrimination." In addition, the group said that Sanchez's freedom to wear a tuxedo is protected by the 1st Amendment's guarantee of free expression.
On March 30, Proviso officials confirmed that Sanchez's request has been granted.
"It's a 1st Amendment right, a free speech right, and that includes her right to send a message through wearing male clothing that she doesn't think women should be restricted to traditional female clothing," said John Knight, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Project at the ACLU, quoted by The Chicago Tribune.
Last year, officials at a Mississippi school district agreed to pay more than $116,000 in legal damages after denying Constance McMillan's request to wear a tuxedo to prom and attend the event with her girlfriend. The district also agreed to adopt a new policy that prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation.