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Homophobia And Authority

... It was all for Fleming High School senior Kelli Davis. The school says it will not publish her senior picture because she wore a tuxedo instead of the traditional drape.

... The school board says the clothing breaks school tradition.

... "Young ladies wear one thing and young men wear something else. If you choose not to do that, you're out of line," [resident James] Stewart said.

This story (via Rox Populi) goes into more detail. Let's first be clear on one thing: the principal, who made the original decision to bar Davis's picture, is (as the kids say) a rectal aperture engaging in intercourse. There is absolutely no excuse for his small-mindedness. That said, it is reasonable for the school board to refuse to intervene. Delegation of authority means allowing the delegate some scope for using his or her discretion -- even if that leads to small abuses of power. I think enforcing a relatively modest gendered dress code falls under the principal's discretion, and I'd be hesitant to ask the school board to micromanage the principal's job. (At the same time, board members and other citizens who agree with the substance of the decision enter rectal territory as well.)

I also think there are deeper problems than whether Davis's picture can go in the yearbook. The second article makes it clear that homophobia is pervasive in the school. It's not a climate conducive to learning when Davis's classmates stand up and declare "I hate queers." This larger issue does deserve intervention by higher authorities. Sadly, it seems that the administrators are as bad as the students on this front.


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