High schoolers' cross-dressing day scrutinized by administrators

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A cross-dressing day had students and officials at a Wisconsin high school at odds.

As Channel 3000 reports, seniors at Middleton High School just outside Madison planned a cross-dressing day Wednesday as part of the annual, weeklong end-of-the-year celebration for those getting ready to leave.

But on Monday, school officials were alerted to the plan via social media – and asked students not to go through with it, Channel 3000 reports.

Their reasoning: According to NBC 15, the administration was concerned about students at the school who identify as transgender. About 20 of those students spoke with officials last month about the school being more accepting of transgender people, the station reports. The administration asked the students to be considerate of their peers and not participate in the cross-dressing.

Students say the cross-dressing day is tradition, WKOW reports, and not about alienating a certain group.

NBC 15 says about 20 students showed up Wednesday and had gone through with the cross-dressing theme – but most changed their outfit when asked to do so.

One student, Channel 3000 says, might not be able to attend the on-stage graduation ceremony after being less cooperative.

But some students, Kate Pabich with NBC 15 tweeted, countered with this question: What message is it sending if school officials say boys have to dress like boys, and girls have to dress like girls? What if somebody was more comfortable wearing clothing that would normally be considered for the opposite sex?

And according to WKOW, some members of the school's LGBT community said they had no problem with the cross-dressing day. But Superintendent Don Johnson told the station there was no way to be sure every student was OK with it, and nobody felt disrespected.

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Gender Identity in Schools

Another Wisconsin school made headlines last year for a similarly themed event, called Gender Bender Day, FOX 6 reported – boys dress like girls, and girls dress like boys.

Students at Tippecanoe Elementary School in Milwaukee picked the day's theme as part of a spirit week celebration, the station said, which had some parents upset. One said it could be confusing for such young children; another said it was teaching kids the wrong lesson.

FOX 6 said it was renamed to Switch It Up Day.

In 2012, he Virginia School District considered banning cross-dressing, FOX News reported. The proposal was made after a handful of male students who wore wigs and socially feminine clothing to school, and worries over their safety began to crop up. FOX News said those students had to use faculty restrooms because of the danger concern.

The proposal banned clothing "not in keeping with a student's gender," FOX News said.

But as Reuters reported, the measure was dropped a month later.

The New York Times ran a piece on gender identity and clothing in schools, all the way back in 2009. The paper said male and female students wearing clothing socially viewed as for the opposite gender was on the rise in recent years, as a way to "articulate – or confound – gender identity or sexual orientation."

The Times then notes five different instances of "unconventional gender expression" in schools in recent months, from outlawing certain behaviors to celebrating them.

Minnesota was the first state in the nation to pass a law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, Outfront Minnesota notes.

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