Target: Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory
Goal: Thank school for reversing discriminatory decision to exclude female student’s photo from yearbook for wearing a tuxedo and changing sexist dress code policy
Recently, the community of San Francisco’s Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory (SHC) was in turmoil after the administration decided to withhold one senior’s portrait from publication in the yearbook because the student, Jessica Urbina, chose to wear a tuxedo for her portrait. Her peers responded by wearing ties and bowties to school, and soon the Twitter handle @JessicasTux and hashtag #JessicasTux exploded with messages and photos in solidarity with Jessica’s choice. The school’s principal, Gary Cannon, then met with Jessica and discovered that she had not been made aware of the school’s policy of not publishing yearbook pictures that do not conform with the dress code, which requires a tuxedo for male students and a drape for female students.
As a result of the meeting, Principal Cannon and the school’s President, John F. Scudder, Jr., published a letter to the community apologizing for the discrimination and pain experienced by Jessica and her family, and making clear that the policy will be changed with the help of students and their families. The letter also expresses the school’s continued support for Jessica’s clothing choices at graduation (where she will also wear a tux) and other year-end ceremonies. Cannon and Scudder acknowledge that “[a]s a school, we must better learn how to support our students who are navigating issues of gender identity,” emphasizing that this unfortunate event is an opportunity to learn and grow as a community of tolerance and respect. This important letter demonstrates how the compassionate action of a community in support of members suffering from discrimination can produce real lasting change.
By signing this petition, you are thanking Principal Cannon, President Scudder, and the SHC administration for realizing that their policy perpetrates violence against those whose gender identity is nontraditional. You are thanking them for the thoughtful and compassionate public apology they issued to Jessica Urbina and her family. You are urging them to follow through on their promise to revise their dress code with the input of students and families.
Dear President Scudder and Principal Cannon,
I am relieved to hear that your administration has taken positive action against the discriminatory dress code policy that resulted in a public trauma for Jessica Urbina. Outdated policies that perpetuate the gender binary and destructive norms of gender identity should be revised without delay, and your promise to do so has turned this disastrous situation into an opportunity for learning and growth.
Thank you for seeing the harm that SHC’s preexisting dress code does to students with nontraditional gender identities, and for noting the suffering of Jessica Urbina and her family. Thank you for issuing a compassionate, respectful public apology, and for vowing to design a new dress code policy with the input of the student body and their families. I urge you to follow through on this promise as soon as possible, to demonstrate your commitment to changing policies that discriminate against and hurt students.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Feen via Wikimedia Commons