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Indiana school district settles suit after transgender student was barred from prom

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GARY, Ind. – Gary Community School Corp. has resolved a lawsuit brought by transgender former student “K.K.” Logan, who was barred from prom at West Side High School in 2006 because she wore a dress.

“Gary School Corporation’s new policies and trainings will help to ensure that other students don’t face discrimination because of who they are or what they wear,” said Christopher Clark, senior staff attorney in Lambda Legal’s Midwest Regional Office in Chicago.

“It is unfortunate that Gary School Corporation has spent almost four years defending a discriminatory policy. The message for schools across the country should be clear – they should adopt and follow dress code policies that respect the rights of all students, and they should let all students attend the school prom without discrimination based on gender identity or expression.”

On May 19, 2006, Principal Diane Rouse stretched her arms across the door of the senior prom, blocking Logan’s entrance because Logan was wearing a dress; at the time, Logan identified as a feminine male. Classmates and friends rallied to Logan’s defense to no avail – even though a female student was allowed to attend dressed in a tuxedo.

Principal Rouse enforced a Gary Community School Corporation policy that forbids any clothing or accessories that “advertise sexual orientation” or “portray the wearer as a person of the opposite gender.”

In December 2007, Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit on behalf of K.K. Logan challenging that policy arguing that it violates students’ First Amendment freedom of expression. Logan also claimed that exclusion from the prom constituted discrimination on the basis of gender.

Gary Community School Corporation settled this matter with Logan for an undisclosed amount on terms agreeable to all parties. The settlement includes revisions to the school district’s dress code and non-discrimination policies such that both policies now include specific protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students. The school district also agreed to conduct training for the administration and school board members on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues and respectful treatment of LGBT people.

At a recent meeting of the school board, the board made the following statement: “The Gary Community School District apologizes to K.K. Logan for the actions that led to her being turned away from her senior prom. We have changed our non-discrimination policies and conducted training of the administration to ensure that something like this does not happen again.”

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