In the current social dynamics, equal rights matter more than ever. Individuals of all genders have the right to express themselves any way they want to. But unfortunately, there are still instances where they have stripped away from this right.
Trevor Wilkinson, a gay teen in Texas is a victim of his freedom of choice being taken away. He was denied an education because he chose to put on nail polish at his school. Even if he inherently has the freedom of choice to express himself.
But Wilkinson wasn’t one to back away. He took this matter to his local school board meeting. To fight for his right.
Read along to know all about the incident and what we can take away from it.
The Incident: What Really Happened
Trevor Wilkinson, a gay teen went to school with nail polish after Thanksgiving this year. For that, he received an in-school suspension (ISS) for violating the dress code. Which prohibits male students from wearing nail polish or make-up.
He was informed he’d have to stay in ISS until the nail polish was removed. But he’s not going down without a fight.
“I got my education taken away from me for something as minor as painting my nails. Just because it’s against the dress code.” He stood in front of the Clyde CISD school board while wearing nail polish.
Before he even got his ISS, Wilkinson said, the ACLU had already written to the school district. Warning them that their dress rule might violate civil rights laws.
“Why’s it against the 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 to girls to wear it, why is it harmful to males?”
He then went into detail about why the policy is so detrimental to LGBTQ youth.
He claims that having a double standard just indicates that Clyde doesn’t accept kids for who they are. And that they shouldn’t be themselves since the very people who are supposed to keep them safe 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,” the teen continued. “I understand that you guys have traditional values and I respect that, but to get the 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.”
His speech moved not only the board members but thousands alike. His video-recorded statement went viral and was seen by thousands, He then proceeded to establish an Amend.org petition to change the school policy. Which has so far received more than 333,000 signatures.
“I am a gay male and I’m beyond proud,” he wrote in the petition. “This is unjust and not okay.”
The school board, on the other hand, refuses to budge. In a statement, Superintendent Kenny Berry said: “the District expects students to abide by established rules of conduct” and that the dress code will not change before the district’s “annual review of the Student Handbook.”
“Until that time, the District will assure that no student is treated in a discriminatory or inequitable manner.”
Trevor is one of the many gay high schoolers who go through such a discriminatory policy. His voicing out his situation not only shed light on such matters. But it also gave courage to others like him.
In order to celebrate diversity and inclusivity, school boards should reevaluate their own policies. Then and only then can schools be a safe space for their students.
Just as Trevor mentioned, “Diversity is what makes this country so beautiful.” Institutions should honor this truth and abide by it.