When it came to dressing up for his school's "Disney Day," 13-year-old Austin Lacey of Menifee, California, decided to go all out. He dressed as Princess Elsa from Disney's smash hit Frozen and, as a result, found himself in some hot water.
The middle schooler was asked to remove his wig and dress before classes started, per a request from the school's principal, who allegedly told the teen that it's not OK for boys to dress like girls. The school's superintendent, Dr. Julie Vitale, has since stated that the principal's actions were in accordance with district policy and were based upon the need to stop a general disruption of the school environment.
Austin's mother, Brooke Francev, has stated that though her son doesn't identify as transgender, this whole ordeal has caused him to take a stand on the equal rights of all people. And it looks as though it isn't just affecting her son, but his entire group of classmates as well.
Austin's classmates have banded together in support of not just him but also the LGBT community. In protest of the principal's actions and in support of the equal rights of all people, Austin's classmates plan to bend gender roles this week by wearing the clothes typically associated with the opposite sex every day of the week.
A flier sent around the school states that students "should be able to express who they are and what they believe in." It continues by asking other students to join together in the fight for what's right:
It is an odd predicament the fact that a student was sent home for dressing like a Disney princess on his school's designated "Disney Day." However, it seems as though the school's move may have backfired, as it is now going to have not just one single student cross-dressing, but an entire class bending gender stereotypes in defiance of what they viewed as prejudice.
Seeing school-age children band together in support of equal rights is heartwarming. In a world so full of discrimination, in a world that continues to bask in the dated rays of hatred, and in a world that still can't seem to wrap its head around the concept of equality for all, these kids have chosen to go against the grain.
As adults it is our job to be the example our children need to see. It's our job to teach them about equality. It's our job to show them that one's skin color, sexual orientation, gender identity or societal status does not define them. It's our responsibility to teach them that though we are all different, we're all equally deserving of basic human rights and the pursuit of happiness.
The generation we're raising has the chance to get it right, to stomp out prejudice before it sparks hatred, to create an environment of acceptance and tolerance and to bring about the long overdue end of inequality. And it appears as though that's exactly what the kids of Ethan Chase Middle School have set out to do.
Though their numbers may be few, their passion is contagious. Here's to hoping that this positivity spreads like wildfire.
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