Brownsville ISD: Protect All Students' Identities. Remove Your Ban on Crossdressing Now!

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Brownsville ISD Administration,

I petition you as a former BISD student, who placed my trust and respect in the faculty and staff of BISD from my enrollment in kindergarten at Egly Elementary in 1999 to my "Distinguished" graduation from Hanna High School's Health Science Technology magnet program in 2012.

At BISD, I recognized the role of the link between students' respect for an institution and their respect of its curriculum, and through formal and informal channels, including student councils, Class of 2012, and other routes, I constantly worked to create mutual understanding and compromise between students and teachers and/or administration to improve that link.

Beside the link between students' respect for administration and their willingness to be proactive in their education, however, there is another link just as vital: that which starts with the respect BISD gives its students and ends with students empowerment by the district translating into a wholesome experience from kindergarten to senior year.

That link is threatened especially by one particular rule in the BISD dress code. Often, students take issue with dress codes as part of their attempt to establish and validate a unique identity for themselves, to which there absolutely should be appropriate limits in schools. One limit the district has had for as long as I can remember, though, and one that is unquestionably damaging to the core of the identity of many students in the district is the ban on "male students" wearing "female attire."

As a male who has always identified as a man, I never examined the effect the rule can have on others, and I deeply regret that now. Since graduating, I have met several amazing transgender individuals who have shared with me stories of their struggle to feel like the district respected their whole selves, in turn negatively and drastically altering their view of BISD's moral and ethical authority. These experiences are part of what we now know through research to be a combination of real, verified, observable negative effects of policies that contradict students' gender identity.

BISD's ban on cross-dressing is unnecessary, negatively affects students' capability to learn, and diminishes their ability to feel safe at school.

On behalf of my dear transgender friends and us allies, and as someone who had the privilege of never having felt like he had to hide any part of his identity from his educators, while some of my classmates had to hide their entire gender, I urge you to immediately strike Dress & Accessories rule #14, "Male students shall not be allowed to wear female attire" and its equivalent in the BISD Student Handbook. If you cannot formally remove the rule in time for the 2015-2016 school year, I urge you to direct your respective schools to cease its enforcement in the meantime.

With all the extraordinary accomplishments BISD has made and continues to strive for, it is clear "students deserve better" is a thought permanently in the heart of the district--I urge you to invoke that sentiment now: dismiss this rule and send the message to all students that their gender identity is valid at the time they most need to hear it.

They deserve better.


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