Success! Transgender Student Allowed to Walk in High School Graduation

Kami Pham, a transgender student at Southward High School in Shreveport, Lousiana, was blindsided when she found out at that her yearbook photo had not been accepted by Principal Jeff Roberts.

School officials explained that Pham didn’t meet dress code requirements, but it appears they were more concerned that she was not wearing clothes in line with the sex reflected on her birth certificate.

Pham, who is a National Honor Society student, experienced discriminatory treatment again when Principal Roberts informed her that she could not walk in her graduation ceremony wearing a wig, makeup and high heels.

Care2 member Kevin Mathews was outraged when he read about Pham’s experience, and he started a Care2 petition demanding that Principal Roberts change his mind. 

The petition quickly went viral, garnering over 13,000 signatures in just a few days.

A win for LGBTQ rights!

On April 3, the Care2 petition succeeded. Pham’s photo will appear in the Southward High yearbook, and she will be able to dress according to her gender identity for the school’s graduation ceremony. 

Congratulations and thank you to all the Care2 members who signed this petition, as well as the many activists who worked to support Pham.

The local school board announced the good news:

Caddo Parish stands by the First Amendment right of students to express themselves and that belief is supported within the Caddo Parish School Board’s approved dress code policy. This expression is without regard to race, color, religion, age, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

As ThinkProgress points out, the dress code for Southwood High School is entirely gender-neutral. Unlike the dress codes of many other school districts, there is no directive about how a student’s hair may be worn.

Tatjana Cotton, a friend of Pham’s, told KTBS, “If I wore that same outfit, there would be no problem; no one would say anything. So why treat Kami any different just because of what her birth certificate says?”

Strangely, Principal Jeff Roberts subsequently issued an announcement denying that he ever made any of these statements regarding Pham.

Over the course of recent days, the positive momentum we have built has been torn down by the false accusations of a student regarding conversations that never took place,” reads a portion of Roberts’ statement. “I can speak for myself and my staff in stating we never denied this student the ability to have their photo in the yearbook or on the senior wall nor denied the student the ability to walk at graduation.

Then why did it take a meeting between Roberts, Pham, Pham’s mother — Deborah Allen, a leader in Shreveport’s LGBTQ community — a Southwood counselor and the student body president, for the school board to make its announcement?

As Care2’s Steve Williams wrote here, trans children often face dehumanization and discrimination at school from teachers and administrators stemming from misplaced fear and mistrust.

Thank you for standing up for the rights of LGBTQ students and making this Care2 petition a success!

Creating a Care2 petition is easy. If you are inspired by this success and have an issue you care deeply about, why not start your own petition? Here are some guidelines to help you get started and soon the Care2 community will be signing up to support you.

 

Photo Credit: COD Newsroom/Flickr

75 comments

Sue H
Sue H3 months ago

Wonderful news! Principal Roberts needs a swift kick! Teach Tolerance.

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DAVID fleming
Dave fleming3 months ago

And so she should

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Gino C
Gino C3 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Thomas M
Thomas M3 months ago

thanks for sharing this

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Emma Z
Emma L3 months ago

That's good. Thanks.

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Camilla Vaga
Camilla Vaga3 months ago

thx

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Leo C
Leo C3 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Past Member
Past Member 3 months ago

awesome

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Deborah W
Deborah W3 months ago

WHEN EARNED, RECOGNITION SHOULD BE HONORED FOR WHAT WAS ACCOMPLISHED. All other matters are personal free choice and not to be mixed in. How sad we still allow group-herding to split and divide us rather than unite to move forward.

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Past Member
Past Member 3 months ago

nice

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