A gay Texan teenager has managed to get the gender distinct dress code at his high school changed last month after petitioning the school against it’s previously discriminatory policies, which saw him suspended several times in six months for doing up his nails.  

Trevor Wilkinson, 18, from Abilene, Texas, a small city about 300 kilometres west from the towering high rises of Dallas, discovered the hard way that it wasn’t acceptable for boys at his school to wear make-up or nail polish, but he wasn’t going to take no for an answer! 

It’s hard being a gay Texan teenager!

“I personally am not a fan of self pity, but it’s hard being gay in West Texas sometimes and I never want to go back to where I was not even two years ago,” Wilkinson said in an interview with CNN. “So what I paint my nails sometimes? I look and feel good while doing it.”

“I’ve come so far with growing within myself and accepting and loving who I am … and when I got sent to ISS (in school suspension) it was like I was taking three steps back and I was regressing,” he said

Wilkinson first came up against opposition to his pretty fingers in October last year, when he got his nails done and was excited to share the efforts of his self expression with his school mates but unfortunately the school administrators were not so thrilled, 

“It all started because I did the simple thing of going and getting my nails done, and when I came to school I was told I was going to be dress coded,” Wilkinson said. “So I actually went home right away and went online for six weeks because I didn’t want to get made fun of but also didn’t want to get in trouble.”

And even though he was compelled to do online study for six weeks to avoid the judgement at school, he was still thinking about getting his nails done again.

“I know it’s just nail polish to others, but it’s my existence to me and how I express myself,” he said.

After the Thanksgiving break, Wilkinson returned to school with a fabulous and fresh mani and was promptly suspended, which prompted him to start reading up about the sex based discrimination laws in schools and came across Title IX, the federal law that prohibits just that!

Fighting for change

Armed with his findings, 403,703 signatures from a change.org petition he started called “Allow males to wear nail polish” and supported by Lambda Legal, a nonprofit organization committed to civil rights of the LGBTQI community and the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), he set about the task of effecting change in his school community.

 

After four board meetings and meetings with school officials, Clyde Consolidated Independent School District (Clyde CISD) came back with an initial offer of change for one semester, which was not satisfactory for Wilkinson, who wanted permanency in the changes because he knew he would be gone at the end of the school year.

“I’m graduating this year so I won’t be around to stand up to this and keep fighting this,” he said. “So the lawyers got more involved and kind of guided them a little bit, and my school did the great thing and made a committee to make this gender-neutral dress code and it got approved three nights ago.”

 

School Adopts Gender-Neutral Dress Code

Kenny Berry, superintendent for Clyde CISD, spoke to CNN.

“This policy was developed and recommended by a group of District stakeholders consisting of secondary students, parents, staff and administration. Clyde CISD appreciates the input from our community and stakeholders that led to the development of our newly approved dress and grooming policy.”

Wilkinson is pretty stoked with the end result of his efforts, “It’s amazing,” he said. 

“I think that the policy is inclusive to everyone and I truly do believe that it’s gender neutral. There’s still a few things that we could change, but overall we still are making so many great steps in the right direction. I’m so proud of my school and everyone that helped me get to this point.”

 

Wilkinson is also supported by members of his immediate family, with his brother tweeting his support back in December when things really started to get moving, along with his Grandfather, Leroy Wilkinson, who was by his side during his battle.

“My grandpa is my biggest supporter, 1000% he’s been by my side throughout this whole entire thing,” he said. “I know that he’s so proud, and if I can be half the man he is, I’ll be just fine.”

 

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