S. Texas school says it will allow trans teen’s tuxedo photo to run in yearbook

Jeydon Loredo

Jeydon Loredo

Trans student Jeydon Loredo will now be remembered in his senior yearbook for the way he wants to be remembered after his school district consented late last week to allow his photo to run in the book.

The La Feria Independent School District  previously told Loredo his photo wouldn’t run because he needed to be pictured wearing feminine clothing. He appealed the decision to the school board last Monday. And the Southern Poverty Law Center, joined by the Human Rights Campaign, intervened on his behalf, threatening legal action if the district didn’t run the photo.

The decision was reversed on Friday when attorneys with the district and SPLC met to ensure Loredo would be included in the yearbook. In addition to agreeing to run the picture, the district will have the superintendent apologize to Loredo for the treatment he received and have the school board discuss adding gender expression to its nondiscrimination policies.

“We are very pleased that the school district has recognized Jeydon for who he is and will allow his photo in the yearbook along with all his classmates,” SPLC staff attorney Alesdair Ittelson said in a statement. “This is as a signal to other school districts that transgender students should be recognized as important members of their communities rather than ostracized and subjected to discrimination. We applaud Jeydon’s courage in standing up for his rights.”

HRC President Chad Griffin applauded the decision.

“We’re thrilled Jeydon will be getting the justice he deserves,” Griffin said in a statement. “It’s a shame that it took a threat of legal action for the school board to make the right decision, but we’re grateful that, in the end, Jeydon’s photo will be included in the yearbook. Discrimination has no place in our society — especially our schools.”

—  Anna Waugh

Victory in HCC trans discrimination case (sort of)

As previously reported by our friends over at the Dallas Voice, in September a Houston Community College teacher, Donny Leveston, led an in-class conversation about “Taboo: Incest and Homoeroticism” in which transgender people were referred to as “freaks” and “weirdos.” In an official response from the HCC Office of Institutional Equality the school admitted that the instructor acted insensitively and failed to show proper concern for a transgender student in the class who later withdrew from the school over the incident. Despite this, HCC found that Leveston did not violate the school’s policy against Discrimination and Harassment and will not be disciplined or required to attend training on transgender issues.

—  admin

Mich. school’s policy change presents opportunity to revisit transgender homecoming issue in Dallas

Andy Moreno

Remember Andy Moreno, the transgender girl who was denied a chance to run for homecoming queen at North Dallas High School?

Well, not surprisingly, it turns out that North Dallas isn’t the only school in the country that’s had to deal with this issue. But unlike NDHS or DISD, schools in other districts appear to be learning from their mistakes and drafting policies to avoid a repeat of the problem. For example, the NBC affiliate in Grand Rapids, Mich., reported Monday that students at Mona Shores High School will henceforth select a gender-neutral homecoming court:

The change comes about five months after a transgender student wasn’t allowed to run for homecoming king at Mona Shores.

Oakleigh Reed is registered at the school as a girl, but plans to undergo a sex change upon turning 18. Reed identifies as a boy, and students and teachers at Mona Shores recognize Oak that way, as well.

Reed was disqualified from running for homecoming king in September. Since last fall, school officials have been trying to figure out a way to avoid a similar situation from happening again.

The solution?

The juniors and seniors will vote on a gender-neutral prom court this spring. The policy will stand for future homecoming events, as well. There will be two juniors and two seniors on the courts; the sex of the students won’t be considered.

“I’m so glad that the rules have been changed,” Reed said in a news release from the ACLU. “All I wanted was a chance for all students to participate and be heard. Now, my classmates and I can just focus on having a great time at our school dance.”

We’ve contacted Jon Dahlander, a spokesman for the Dallas Independent School District, to find out whether there have been any further discussions about this issue since the Andy Moreno controversy in October. We’ve also left a message with Dinnah Escanilla, the principal at North Dallas High School who told Moreno she couldn’t run for queen because she was born a boy — a decision that the district stood behind.

We’ll let you know what we find out.


—  John Wright

WATCH: N. Dallas High School bars transgender girl from running for homecoming queen

A male-to-female transgender student at North Dallas High School says the school’s principal is discriminating against her by barring her from running for homecoming queen, according to a report that aired Wednesday night on Fox 4.

Andy Moreno, an 18-year-old senior, told the station that some friends nominated her for homecoming queen. However, a few days ago, a counselor warned Moreno that some school administrators were opposed to the idea. Moreno says she went to talk to the principal, who told her to run for homecoming king instead.

The Dallas Independent School District says it has no formal policy on the issue, but DISD issued a statement saying: “The district fully supports the decision of the principal at North Dallas High School. It should be noted that the Dallas Independent School District is proud to have one of the most aggressive anti-harassment policies among school districts in the state of Texas.”

Moreno says she doesn’t feel comfortable running for homecoming king because she identifies as a female, and her friends support her.

“I do feel like I’m being harassed and I feel like I’m being discriminated against,” Moreno told Fox 4. “I feel like the principal is embarrassed to have a transgender queen.”

Stay tuned to Instant Tea and Dallas Voice for more on the story.

—  John Wright

Classmate arrested in hate-crime attack on transgender Houston Community College student Lance Reyna

Lance Reyna

One of Lance Reyna’s classmates has been arrested in the transgender student-activist’s hate-crime beating inside a Houston Community College restroom last week, The Houston Chronicle reported Wednesday evening.

Terrance Calhoun, 22, was arrested on campus Wednesday and charged with aggravated robbery in the attack on 29-year-old Lance Reyna.

Reyna was washing his hands when his attacker emerged from a stall and put a knife to his throat saying, “Hey queer, I need you to be quiet, cooperate, and give me all your valuables.” Reyna, who is both transgender and gay, was knocked to the floor and beaten and kicked. His wallet and credit cards were taken.

Reyna told The Chroncile he’s slightly relieved about the arrest but still feels he was targeted and won’t be satisfied until Calhoun is convicted of a hate crime. Unfortunately, prosecutors say it’s unlikely they’ll pursue a hate-crime charge. Again, that’s because Texas law provides no enhanced penalty for hate crimes if the offense is already a first-degree felony, such as aggravated robbery.

While aggravated robbery is punishable by life in prison, it is difficult for law enforcement to send a message — or for the statute to act as a deterrent — if cases aren’t formally prosecuted as hate crimes. Furthermore, Texas’ hate crimes law doesn’t protect transgender people, so if the case were prosecuted as a hate crime, defense attorneys could try to argue that the statute doesn’t apply, even though Reyna is also gay.

From The Chronicle:

The victim, who has been active in transgender and other gay and lesbian organizations, said he still suffers pain from his injuries. “I don’t feel safe on campus,” he said. “Just looking at the building triggers my memories. I deal with night terrors every day.”

—  John Wright