SC Equality Advocates For Upstate High School Students Right For Gender Expression

December 4, 2014

Taylor Holton is a 17 year old high school student at Blue Ridge High School. Taylor was born as a female but has publicly identified as a male for the past year. They have been accepted and embraced by fellow students and teachers. In preparation of graduation next May, students are required to order caps and gowns by today. Nine days ago, Taylor was called into the school office and told “we know you identify as a male, but your birth certificate states you are a female. Therefore you are required to order a female cap and gown”. This high school’s tradition is for females to wear one color and males to wear another. Amanda Braswell, Taylor’s mother, called SC Equality and the SC Equality TransAction Committee for help. After a meeting with the school principal, which did not end with any decisions being made, we decided that it was time to bring in a SC Equality lawyer. Our attorney called the school district’s (Greenville County School District) attorney to let them know that we would pursue the matter further if necessary if Taylor’s rights were continued to be violated. The school district has now decided that all students (male and female) will march at graduation wearing the same color caps and gowns and that Taylor would be allowed to wear gender neutral clothing under their gown. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth should always have the freedom to be open and expressive about their identity in schools. A memo on single-sex education released by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights includes one pivotal paragraph that should help protect transgender students from discrimination. In it, the department states that schools cannot discriminate against transgender students on the basis of sex, and that, for the purpose of single-sex education, schools should treat these students based on their gender identity rather than the sex they were assigned at birth.