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Senior Portraits: School Ditches Tuxedos And Dresses For Gender-Neutral Attire

12/07/2011 04:14 pm ET | Updated Dec 08, 2011

For her senior portrait, 17-year-old lesbian student Ceara Sturgis posed in a tuxedo, going against the school's requirement that girls wear dresses. In response, the school chose to exclude her photograph from the portraits section of the yearbook.

After getting wind of the situation, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Mississippi have stepped in, arguing that the teen's constitutional rights are being violated. Today, the groups came to an agreement with the Copiah County School District. All students will now wear a gender-neutral cap and gown for their graduation photos, replacing their traditional attire of a tuxedo for boys and dress for girls.

Sturgis believes that she should be able to decide how she looks in her senior portrait -- a picture that's meant to express who she is, which includes her sexual orientation. "I feel like I'm not important, that the school is dismissing who I am as a gay student and that they don't even care about me. All I want is to be able to be me, and to be included in the yearbook," Sturgis said in a statement.

Ceara's photo will now be included in the yearbook alongside the rest of her graduating class.

Another high school facing civil rights claims made headlines this week -- in this case, a softball coach allegedly outed a lesbian student to her mother, who the student had not yet told that she was gay. The student's mother, Barbara Wyatt sued the school district and two coaches from Kilgore High School last year for invasion of privacy and the school is currently facing charges.

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