Gender is not the same as sexual orientation


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I would like to correct an inaccuracy in the May 27 article "Students object to graduation dress code." In his article, Terry Dean stated, "Bloch says the traditional dress code-which has remained virtually the same for more than a century-places boys and girls in gender-specific roles that's unfair to gay, lesbian and transgender students."

Clearly, Mr. Dean did not understand what I meant when I told the District 200 Board of Education that the OPRF graduation dress code "excludes transgender students or those who do not identify with a specific gender." Because the dress code delineates between "gentlemen" and "ladies," assigning a specific dress code for each, the school is creating gender roles for the students of OPRF. This policy excludes transgender students because they do not necessarily fit into one of the very specific categories dictated by the current policy, or because while they are biologically one sex, they consider themselves a different gender.

Gay and lesbian students have nothing to do with the aforementioned point. A person's sexual orientation does not dictate his or her gender identification, nor does a person's gender identification dictate his or her sexual orientation. It is very possible that there are transgender students who are gay, lesbian, or bisexual, but the policy is not exclusionary towards them because of their sexual orientation. The current graduation dress code policy is exclusionary towards these students because it prescribes for them specific gender roles in which they do not necessarily fit.

I am sure that Mr. Dean's mistake was innocuous in nature, but I believe it is important that the Oak Park and River Forest community not only understand the argument I am trying to make, but also to understand that, although gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people often affiliate with other (hence the existence of many GLBTQ organizations), sexual orientation and gender identification are two very different things.

Rebecca Bloch

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