A Louisiana high school banned one of its premier gay honor students from wearing a tuxedo to prom, claiming that she would violate dress code reports USA Today. Monroe High School Senior Claudetteia Love, who participated in the school’s high-achieving medical magnet program and is considered an academic superstar, was crushed at the news that she couldn’t attend her prom on April 24 if she wore a tuxedo.
"I told my mom, 'They're using me. They put me in all these honors and advanced placement classes so I can take all of these tests and get good grades and better the school, but when it's time for me to celebrate the fact that I've accomplished what I need to accomplish and I'm about to graduate, they don't want to let me do it, the way I want to.'"
Love is set to represent her school at the annual Scholar’s Banquet; an event for the top students in Ouachita Parish. Geraldine Jackson, Love’s mother, discussed the issue with Principal Patrick Taylor, and received a different explanation as to why her daughter was banned from wearing a tuxedo to the prom.
"He said that the faculty that is working the prom told him they weren't going to work the prom if (girls) were going to wear tuxes. That’s his exact words. 'Girls wear dresses and boys wear tuxes, and that's the way it is.'
"I feel like he's taking his values and throwing them on my daughter because of what her preference is and what she represents."
Love intended to attend the prom with a group of friends, but didn’t plan on bringing a date with her. Love’s friends have since chosen not to attend the prom because of the no-tux rule imposed on Love. Several members of her senior class launched a petition to change the rule but faculty have yet to act on it. However, Monroe City School Board President Rodney McFarland contacted The News-Star to announce that he is personally taking action on Love’s behalf, and that he will contact Superintendent Brent Vidrine and request that he discuss the rule with Principal Taylor.
"As school board president, I don't agree with Carroll banning her from her prom just because of what she wants to wear - that's discrimination. As far as I know there is no Monroe City School Board policy saying what someone has to wear to attend the prom. You can't just go making up policies."
The ACLU of Louisiana has also stepped in and written a letter to Superintendent Vidrine letting the district know that prohibiting a female student from wearing a tux "violates not only the laws against sex discrimination but also the First Amendment's right to free expression."