A gay student in Louisiana who was going to skip prom when her principal said she couldn’t wear a tuxedo has not only been vindicated by her school board—she’s getting a free custom-made tux.
Claudettia Love, a 17-year-old senior and one of the top students at Carroll High School in Monroe, Louisiana, was planning on going to prom on Friday with a group of friends, but Carroll High principal Patrick Taylor told her she couldn’t wear a tuxedo like she planned.
He insisted the decision was based on the school’s dress code, and not anything personal.
“That’s his exact words: ’Girls wear dresses and boys wear tuxes, and that’s the way it is,'” said Love’s mother, Geraldine Jackson, who claimed she was told faculty members wouldn’t chaperone the dance if female students wore tuxedos.
Love told The News-Star she felt like she was being used: “They put me in all these honors and advanced placement classes so I can take all of these tests and get good grades and better the school. But when it’s time for me to celebrate [what I’ve accomplished], they don’t want to let me do it the way I want to.'”
Last year, Love was honored at Monroe City School Board meeting as part of the school’s high achieving medical magnet program. She’ll also represent Carroll High at the upcoming Scholars’ Banquet and has a full scholarship to Jackson State University.
Fortunately, school board president Rodney McFarland wasn’t having it: “Banning her from her prom just because of what she wants to wear — that’s discrimination,” he said. “As far as I know there is no Monroe City School Board policy saying what someone has to wear to attend the prom. You can’t just go making up policies.”
McFarland called on Monroe County School Superintendent Brent Vidrine to talk to Principal Taylor, who relented.
“We are pleased to hear that Principal Taylor and the Monroe City School Board corrected this wrong before any serious harm was done,” said National Council for Lesbian Rights director Kate Kendall. “Forbidding girls from wearing a tuxedo to the prom would have served no purpose other than to reinforce the worst sorts of harmful stereotypes and censor a core part of Claudetteia’s identity.”
As for Love, she’s looking forward to prom again:
I am thankful that my school is allowing me to be who I am and attend my senior prom in tuxedo. Now that I can go in my tuxedo, I am looking forward to celebrating the end of my senior year with my friends and classmates at the prom, like any other student.
The outpouring of support has been incredible and inspiring; it is a source of strength that I will keep with me as I move on the next phase of my education and life beyond high school.
Speaking of support, thanks to some generous souls, Love will be the best looking student at prom: LGBT activist Kayce Brown is working with Greyscale Goods and several queer-friendly retailers to get her outfitted for her big day.
“Feeling good about yourself is important. Community and giving back are equally important,” says Brown, co-founder of the GaymerX convention. “Working with Claudetteia to outfit her for the prom in her dream tux, gives us the opportunity to have these important conversations on a larger scale.”
Brown and Sharpe Suiting’s Leon Wu will deliver the custom-made tux to Lousiana in person and help Love get ready for the dance.
“Right now I’m feeling great and I am excited about prom,” says Love. “I really didn’t expect a story to get as big as it got but I’m glad it did. So many people have supported me and it is just a great feeling. It has really shown me the true power of speaking out and standing up for what is right.”