In February, senior George Zamazal, better known as Tony, approached an assistant principal at Spring High School to ask permission to wear a dress to the school’s prom in May. The assistant principal reportedly told her that she had to wear a tuxedo because she’s a boy.
The problem is, Tony, although born one, doesn’t identify as a boy. She recently discovered that she considers herself as female. Tony also went to the principal, who reportedly told her that he had to consult with the Spring ISD school board, because it would be a “community decision.”
“And we got involved at that point. The ACLU sent a letter to the principal explaining that Tony’s right to express her gender identity was protected by both federal statutes and the federal constitution.”
That’s Adriana Piñon, senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas.
In a faxed response to the ACLU’s letter a week later, an attorney for the Spring Independent School District said that Tony “has not been denied the right to wear feminine attire.”
“The school in its letter took the position that it never told Tony ‘No.’ However, after that first conversation with the assistant principal that was definitely Tony’s understanding of the conversation that she was not allowed to wear a dress to prom.”
The school district would not comment beyond an email statement that reads:
“Spring ISD has not denied any student the right to wear a dress to prom. Students who choose to wear a dress to prom need to adhere to the dress code.”
Piñon says Tony’s problem is one that many transgender students face nationwide.
“It’s still certainly problematic for a lot of students nationally, so it’s not that the problem has gone away, but I’m hopeful that there is greater understanding, which is why I think moments like these need to be recognized, you know. That Tony’s rights to express her gender identity were affirmed by the school district is a great thing.”
She says similar complaints to the ACLU of Texas tend to spring up around prom time.
As far Tony is concerned, Piñon says, she couldn’t be happier.
“Oh, she was thrilled. You could hear the excitement in her voice about the fact that she would be able to go to prom in what she wanted to wear and attend in a way that she feels comfortable and able to be herself.”
The Spring High School prom is on May 11.