Cross-dressing student sent home from Aldine ISD school

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by Courtney Zubowski / 11 News

khou.com

Posted on November 3, 2009 at 2:11 PM

HOUSTON -- A Nimitz High School senior says he’s being discriminated against because he dresses like a girl. 

O’Rhonde Chapman, 17, was born a boy, but says he feels like a woman.

“I wear women’s clothing every day,” he said.

But Monday was the first time Chapman wore a wig and stiletto heels to school. The principal told him to change his clothing or go home. Chapman was told he was in violation of the school’s dress code policy.

“I would like to be able to wear my hair and everything and still be treated the same and have an equal opportunity to have an education, as others do. I ought not be segregated or sent home because of what I have on,” Chapman said. “I am losing out on my education. That upsets me. That upsets me because I don’t go to school to be judged.”

A spokesperson for Aldine I.S.D. said this has nothing to do with discrimination. He says the student violated the school’s dress code. If he follows policy he can return to school. The district wouldn’t release other information about this issue because as of Monday afternoon they had not received permission to do so from the teen’s mother.

The Aldine ISD dress code states that the hair length for boys cannot extend below the bottom of a shirt collar. It also reveals that wigs are not acceptable as a cover-up for hair not meeting the dress code. Even so, civil rights attorney Randall Kallinen believes he shouldn’t have been kicked out of class.

“He’s wearing a wig, there’s no doubt about that,” Kallinen said. “And his hairstyle, his actual hairstyle conforms. So, basically, he fits the criteria for wigs because it doesn’t say anything about hair length of wigs.”

O’ Rhonde Chapman says he plans to stand by his decision and not return to school unless his hair goes with him.

“I believe in fighting for what’s right,” Chapman said.

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