High school cancels controversial 'Gender-Bender' homecoming spirit day

Tuesday, November 19, 2019
Fayetteville high school cancels controversial "Gender-Bender" homecoming spirit day
Fayetteville high school cancels controversial "Gender-Bender" homecoming spirit day

FAYETTEVILLE, North Carolina -- Reid Ross Classical High School in Fayetteville has agreed to change a controversial spirit week theme after parents and advocates voiced concerns about the "Gender-Bender" day, encouraging students to "cross-dress" in traditional male or female attire.

Valentina Graham was one of the first parents to sound off.

"Very shocking to me, very shocking to me," said Graham.

Like many high schools across the country, Reid Cross Classical is celebrating their homecoming with Spirit Week but Graham believes Gender-Bender day crosses the line.

"I accept any child that chooses to cross=dress but for a public institution to promote cross-dressing, that's unacceptable to me," said Graham.

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Other parents weren't concerned at all.

"It's no big deal. It's just meant to be fun," said one parent.

LGBTQ advocates took issue with the theme for different reasons, including insensitivity.

"It's more so saying that people only express gender through dressing," said Kori Hennessey with the LGBT Center of Raleigh.

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Additionally, Hennessey says it hinders students who identify as transgender or gender non-conforming who still struggle to be accepted.

"I'm sure there's students within this school that deal with some of these things, the mental issues and things like that and societal pressures telling them they have to be a certain way," said Hennessey.

Cumberland County Schools says they've been doing spirit week for years and that a theme of this nature was never chosen to offend. The student government association that came up with the themes decided to cancel Gender-Bender day.

"In an effort to promote inclusion and resolve some of the concerns raised, SGA leaders at Reid-Ross met with the high school counselor this afternoon and decided to change Wednesday's theme. It will now be Meme Character Day," said Lindsey Whitley CCS Spokesman.