A 13 year old boy was forced to remove his fancy dress costume when his school principal deemed that it violated gender norms.
Last week at Ethan Chase Middle School in Menifee, California, students were permitted to attend classes in fancy dress costumes. Students were encouraged to come dressed as characters from Disney movies.
Austin Lacey chose to attend dressed as Queen Elsa from Frozen, complete in sparkling blue dress and long blonde wig. The costume was reported to be a hit with students, with many posing for pictures with him.
Unfortunately school principal Chris Hernandez was less than pleased with the costume and ordered Austin to remove it before he then confiscated it.
In a statement made by Romoland School District, superintendent Julie Vitale said, ‘This action was taken in accordance with district policies. At no time was there an indication that the student was expressing any particular message. The principal’s action was based upon the need to stop a general disruption to the school environment.’
The superintendent went on to state that the school district ‘prides itself on having policies and practices that support all students regardless of gender identity or gender expression.’
Despite this reassurance Austin’s mother, Brooke Francev, told local television stations that Austin ‘was later informed that the principal does not believe that boys should be dressed like girls. I can’t believe that there are still people out there who hold those beliefs, especially on a day when it was intended in good fun. It really shouldn’t have been an issue.’
Austin is not transgender, by has said that since his treatment he’s taking a stand on the rights that people have, and Austin’s mother has said that other students were upset by the incident and wish to promote a week of cross-dressing in solidarity with the LGBT+ community.
The decision by principal Hernandez to force Austin to remove his costume is a questionable one at best, especially when the reasoning he gave was that it was ‘causing a disruption’. Unless Austin was the one and only student to take part in the school’s fancy dress that day it is highly unlikely that he was the only person having pictures taken with him.
If the school did not want to ’cause a disruption’ perhaps they should not have chosen to host a fancy dress day, an idea that was guaranteed to disrupt the normal school day. Instead, it would appear that a school official used that as an excuse to hide their own prejudice at gender variance.
The fact that Austin is not a trans or gender variant teen should not be an issue here, it’s the schools reaction that should be. On a day where students are encouraged to dress up and have fun a student is singles out and punished because of the beliefs of one person that boys shouldn’t be dressed as girls. I truly hope that there are not trans or gender variant students at Ethan Chase Middle School, as it has become quite clear that they would not be made to feel welcome there.