San Francisco’s Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory School wiped 18-year-old Jessica Urbina’s photo from her senior yearbook because she wore a tuxedo.
The school says Urbina broke a rule that female students must wear dresses for their yearbook photos, and that an alternative picture will appear. But students are protesting on Urbina’s behalf, with many showing up to school on Friday wearing ties in solidarity. Her brother, 21-year-old Michael Urbina, also started the hashtag #JessicasTux to spread the message among students.
Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep has already started to respond to the backlash, saying in a statement, “These events have sparked a campus-wide dialogue which will result in a revision of policy.”
But SHCP is just one of dozens of schools that have faced sudden national scrutiny for dictating gendered dress codes and discriminating against students who do not fit them. Another Christian school, in Virginia, made headlines recently for threatening to deny enrollment to an 8-year-old girl because she dressed and acted like a boy. Other schools have disciplined male students for wearing makeup, carrying a “My Little Pony” bag, or trying to wear a dress to prom.
Female students are especially regulated in their dress. Even girls who do abide by the school’s prescribed gender norms still face punishment; one girl recently revealed she was kicked out of prom because some fathers complained her dress was inspiring “impure thoughts.”
The school released an apology Monday, saying Jessica’s portrait will appear in a reprint of the yearbook. “While we believe SHC to be a safe and supportive environment for all, this situation has reminded us that we still have much growth to achieve,” school officials wrote. “While many gay and lesbian alumni and students have commented on the inclusive, supportive aspect of our school community, others have remarked on some prejudice that still exists. As a school, we must better learn how to support our students who are navigating issues of gender identity.”