Officials at La Feria Independent School District are refusing to allow trans student Jeydon Loredo to appear in La Feria High School’s yearbook because he’s wearing a tuxedo.
Loredo, a senior, reached out to the Human Rights Campaign, and The Southern Poverty Law Center is also coming to his aid, even threatening the school district with a federal lawsuit if officials don’t allow the photo to run.
After Loredo was photographed in a tuxedo for the yearbook, school district officials instructed the photography studio to withhold the photo from the Loredo family, who had already paid for it, according to a press release.
District Superintendent Rey Villarreal told Jeydon’s mother and HRC vice president Fred Sainz that featuring Loredo’s photo would offend “community standards” and that Jeydon’s photograph would only be included if he wore feminine attire.
“The La Feria School District’s ongoing attempt to force Jeydon back in the closet is not only deeply harmful to him personally, it sends a dangerous message to LGBT young people throughout the community that they are better off hiding their true selves,” HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement. “It is unconscionable that the school district is going out of its way to single out Jeydon because he’s transgender. This appalling and senseless behavior must not be tolerated.”
Loredo appealed the decision at a public meeting Monday night, accompanied by his mother and legal representation. The board went into closed session, but no decision was made.
“I’ve lived here my whole life, and I’ve grown up with the kids here,” Loredo said in a statement Wednesday. “I’ve seen those in my community go through troubles, and denying my tuxedo photo would be a way for the district to forget me and everything I’ve brought to this community. The yearbook is for the students, not the faculty or the administration. It is a way for us to remember each other.”
A demand letter was then Wednesday sent to the school district.
“The school district should know better. True community standards of equality and respect require that the District publish Jeydon Loredo’s tuxedo photo in the yearbook,” SPLC staff attorney Alesdair Ittelson said. “Denying Jeydon the opportunity to wear gender-appropriate clothing is discrimination. When districts apply different standards to students like Jeydon, they violate the law. The district seeks to erase Jeydon’s identity and his contributions to the community by removing his gender-appropriate photo from this important high school milestone.”
The SPLC has said it will take legal action if the school board doesn’t confirm in writing by Nov. 21 that Loredo’s tuxedo photo will appear in the yearbook.
“This denial reminds us that outdated stereotypes concerning sex and gender still serve as an excuse for schools to deny students their rights,” SPLC President and CEO Richard Cohen said in a statement. “SPLC is working in communities across the South to fight these battles, and is delighted to join with the Human Rights Campaign to protect young people who are victims of discrimination.”