LGBTQ+ Pride Month

2 Texas Dads Wore Dresses To Their Kids' School After Officials Said One Boy Couldn't

It was a powerful way to send a message.

What started as a class project to teach kids about gender ended with two fourth grade students and a couple clever dads teaching school administrators about the very same topic. It also reinforced the mom of a transgender student's appreciation for her child's classmates.

Two students, a boy and a girl, were tasked with giving a presentation about sexism and gender, the girl decided to wear baggy pants and the boy decided to wear a dress to illustrate stereotypes — until a school administrator told the boy to take the dress off because it "was a distraction." When the parents of the children got wind of the situation, the fathers of the students decided to head on over to the school to talk to administrators. But before they went, both put on dresses of their own.

"I just didn't like the fact that someone was telling my daughter that boys couldn't wear dresses to school," the father of the girl, who requested anonymity to protect his child's identity, told A Plus. "Who is anyone to tell anyone what they can wear as long as they aren't wearing bikinis or something like that?"

The same father also explained that when school administrators told his daughter's friend to take off the dress, they didn't tell her to change out of her baggy pants. Administrators told both students that they weren't going to talk about the incident any further, the dad said. From his perspective, that was what was most perturbing part.

"What really got under our skin was that the school told them they weren't allowed to talk about it at the school," he said. "It's one thing to say that they cant be parading around in a dress and it's causing a distraction at school. It's another thing to say we can't discuss social issues."

Reached by A Plus for comment, school administrators confirmed that parents did show up in dresses and that a productive conversation ensued. 

When the two dads showed up at the school in dresses, it seemed to have a positive effect on their conversation with school officials. While the administrators "didn't seem happy" at first, according to one parent involved, the big takeaway from their meeting was that the principal still had to get approval from the superintendent that it was OK for a boy to wear a dress in the school. But the officials also changed their tune really fast, the girl's dad said, and seemed to understand they could have handled the situation with more sensitivity.

The boy who wore the dress and his mother also spoke to A Plus under the condition of anonymity and said that the school responded well, apologized to the parents and the students and seemed like they understood why the kids and parents were upset. During his interview, the boy explained he and his friend were planning to give a presentation about how stores market things differently to boys and girls — like using pink packaging — and they made a deal to swap outfits for the day. When the school officials asked him to remove the dress, he obliged for fear of getting in trouble with his parents, but he didn't think it was the right thing to do.

"A lot of people have been treating people like trans, gay, lesbian people not very well recently," the fourth grade boy told A Plus in a phone call. "I just don't want that to happen. I just don't get why people can't treat other people more fairly. It just doesn't make sense to me why all people can't just be equal."

Amber Briggle, who is the national co-chair of the Parents for Transgender Equality Council, a Human Rights Campaign group, originally posted the photo of one of the dads in the dress. Briggle's son Max, who is transgender, goes to the same Dallas-area elementary school as the two students, and when she got wind of the dads' stunt, she decided to post about it on Facebook. Using a picture of one of the boy's dad in the dress he wore, she described the parents as "heroes" for showing boys that it's okay to dress outside the gender construct if they want. 

"These are the little things you can do as allies to make the world a better place," Briggle told A Plus. "I really want to highlight the little everyday actions we can do to make the world a little bit better for kids like Max."

Briggle and her son were covered by A Plus last year when a photograph of her son crying on the floor of the state capitol during a protest against anti-transgender legislation went viral. Her blog, Love To The Max, shares stories about their family's experience. 

"This conversation could have happened anywhere," Briggle said. "I really want to be compassionate with the school because mistakes happen and we're all learning together. They've been really, really supportive of Max and my family."

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