This photo provided by the Southern Poverty Law Center shows Stella Loredo, left, and her son, Jeydon Loredo, a South Texas transgender teenager who grew up female but now identifies himself as a male.
(Photo: J Michael Short, Southern Poverty Law Center, AP)
HOUSTON (AP) - Jeydon Loredo, a transgender U.S. teenager, wants to be remembered in his school yearbook wearing clothing that he says reflects his identity.
But the 18-year-old, who grew up female but now identifies as male, and his mother say his Texas school district is refusing to allow a picture of Loredo in a tuxedo to appear in the yearbook because it violates "community standards."
Now Loredo and attorneys with the Southern Poverty Law Center are threatening legal action against the La Feria school district.
"I've lived here my whole life, and I've grown up with the kids here. ... Denying my tuxedo photo would be a way for the district to forget me and everything I've brought to this community," Loredo said in a statement.
In a phone interview, Jeydon's mother, Stella Loredo, said that during a meeting with school district Superintendent Raymundo Villarreal, she was told that the photograph "goes against the community standards."
Stella Loredo said she was told her son's photograph would be included only if he wore feminine clothing.
Villarreal said in a statement: "The district's legal representative has reached out to the student's counsel to engage in communication with the hope of a resolution. The district will follow the law, district policy and the appropriate procedures as it pertains to the request."
Alesdair Ittelson, an attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center, said the district's action violates Jeydon's right to freedom of expression under the First Amendment, as well as the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment and Title IX, the law requiring gender equity in every educational program that receives federal funding.
In a letter to the school board, Ittelson said if a decision to allow the photograph in the yearbook isn't made by Nov. 21, the law center would file a federal lawsuit.
"They have an opportunity to do the right thing here," Ittelson said.