After the Clovis Unified School District rejected a proposal for a gender neutral dress code, male students wore dresses and female students wore collared shirts in protest.
Students of the California school district launched a petition for a new dress code that had "no restrictions on hair length, facial hair, and piercings" and gave them the ability to voice "opinions and suggestions on other aspects of dress code.
Clovis Unified trustees rejected the proposal in favor of the decades-old policy, which the ACLU says violates the state's education code.
"When schools require a certain hair length only for boys, or say that girls can wear earrings but boys cannot wear earrings, they discriminate and prevent students from learning in an inclusive school climate," ACLU attorney Abre Conner told The Fresno Bee.
The ACLU is also fighting for gender neutral bathrooms, which might have played a role in some trustees voting against the dress code.
"This is totally centered around something called gender equity...that has nothing to do with what we're trying to accomplish," trustee Richard Lake said after the vote. "We shouldn't be changing things. A woman's a woman and a man's a man, and there's a difference."
While district spokeswoman Kelly Avants assures transgender students are protected despite the dress code, the fight has been cast along generational lines. On the one hand you have concerned parents and community members afraid that "under God" will be stricken from the Pledge of Allegiance and a man will be able to "come into my daughter's bathroom." And on the other, you have some pretty smart kids who want to epxress themselves and are not bound by the same codes of belief and conduct.
"The reason we switched gender norms for the day was to make the statement that what we wear does not define us as students," Buchanan High School senior Emma Sledd told the Bee. "We believe everyone should be able to express themselves equally. A boy with long hair is no less of a hard worker than a girl with long hair."