Unfortunately, as we know, discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community happens every single day. Even worse, the discrimination is extremely vast and constant, which makes it pretty difficult for people to fight back every time. Still, fighting against discrimination is necessary to show the rest of the world that the LGBTQ+ community will not let itself be subjected to abuse and hatred. Below you will find the story of a courageous young man who stood up for himself and his community:
When going back to school after Thanksgiving break a few weeks ago, Senior Trevor Wilkinson, who identifies as gay, was punished with an In-School Suspension (ISS) because he was wearing nail polish. He was told that this action violated the school’s dress code, and that he would stay in ISS until he removed the polish. This was when he understood the significance and depth of the situation.
“This isn’t about me anymore,” said Trevor Wilkinson, “It’s about a discriminatory, sexist policy that needs to be changed.”
Trevor then decided to take action. He set up a meeting with the school board in order to educate his community on why the punishment was wrong.
“I got my education taken away from me for something as minor as painting my nails because it’s against the dress code,” he told the Clyde Independent School District (CISD) school board.
Wilkinson was not just stating his opinion. He was aware of federal civil right laws and even knew that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had already sent a letter to the district warning them that their dress code might violate these laws.
“Why is it against dress code for a man to be comfortable with his masculinity and defy the gender norms society has imposed on us?” Wilkinson asked. “Why is it harmful for me to wear nail polish? If it’s not harmful for girls to wear it, why is it harmful for males?”
He then explained why the policy is so harmful to LGBTQ+ students:
“Having a double standard like this only shows that Clyde doesn’t accept kids for who they are and they shouldn’t be themselves because the very people that are supposed to create a safe environment can’t accept them. It’s not too late to be on the right side of history and I dare ask you guys to join. I understand that you guys have traditional values and I respect that, but to get respect you also have to give it. America is progressing, we’re staying up to date with trends, we’re modernizing as a whole and nothing will stop that. Traditional values are great, but change is inevitable. At what point do we look at the bigger picture and realize that this isn’t 50 years ago? We’re all supposed to be equal, not having our freedom of expression suppressed, not having our voices not heard because grown-ups are taking three steps back instead of forward. Diversity is what makes this country so beautiful.”
Wilkinson’s message spread far and wide. After starting the Change.org petition, designed to change the school policy, he got over 333,000 signatures.
“I am a gay male and I’m beyond proud,” he wrote in his petition. “This is unjust and not okay.”
“Until that time, the District will assure that no student is treated in a discriminatory or inequitable manner.”
Regardless of the District policy outcome, Wilkinson showed his community that it is not okay to be punished for who you are. He did so by educating himself and being relentless on educating others. It will take many others, like Trevor, to stand against discrimination and create a world of understanding. At Pride Palace, we thank him.