High School Victory: Gay Student Can Now Wear Tuxedo to Her Senior Prom

Claudetteia Love will be able to attend her dance wearing the clothing of her choice.

(Photo: Pam Ostrow/Getty Images)

Apr 7, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Jennifer Swann is TakePart’s culture and lifestyle reporter.

Principal Patrick Taylor of Carroll High School has had a change of heart.

The Monroe, Louisiana, high school principal made national headlines over the weekend when he forbade an openly gay honor student from wearing a tuxedo to her senior prom. Seventeen-year-old Claudetteia Love will now be able to attend prom in the formal wear of her choice, the National Center for Lesbian Rights announced on Tuesday.

"I am thankful that my school is allowing me to be who I am and attend my senior prom in tuxedo," Love, an honor student who plans to attend Jackson State University on a full academic scholarship, said in a statement Tuesday. "Now that I can go in my tuxedo, I am looking forward to celebrating the end of my senior year with friends and classmates at the prom, like any other student."

The Carroll High School dress code that previously banned Love from wearing a tuxedo to her senior prom, which is later this month, inspired a student petition, the involvement of the Monroe County Board of Education, and Monroe's school board president, who told The News Star that the ban on girls wearing tuxedos was a form of discrimination. Taylor reportedly told Love's mother, Geraldine Jackson, that "girls wear dresses and boys wear tuxes, and that's the way it is."

National Center for Lesbian Rights staff attorney Asaf Orr got in touch with Love's family to offer legal support after the news broke. "School districts for many years—around the country, not just in Louisiana—have been coming up with all different reasons to exclude LGBT students from prom," Orr said. "Censoring someone's core identity is not appropriate. It's really appropriate for schools to just be supporting their students and helping them grow and develop and succeed. That's exactly what this reversal will allow."

Carroll High School and the Monroe School District did not immediately return requests for comment. "As a school district, we want each and every child in our district to have a great experience both in school and extracurricular. We constantly evaluate our policy and procedures to maintain that positive experience for all our students," Monroe City Schools Superintendent Brent Vidrine told The News Star after the announcement.

But even after the ban was lifted, Jackson was not satisfied with the school's apology, according to The News Star. "My child is still hurting," she told the local newspaper.

Orr applauds the school district for reversing the dress code so swiftly, in part because Love's story became a media sensation, drawing outrage all over the country. "Placing these restrictions on what a student can wear to the prom and who they can bring as a date to the prom are sort of—at this point, they shock our conscience. This is 2015. We shouldn't be having these discussions."

The school board plans to hold a news conference Wednesday.