Hundreds of students at a San Francisco Catholic school wore ties to class Friday to protest an administrative decision to keep the graduation photo of a female student wearing a tuxedo out of the yearbook.
The outcry became contagious as word spread across social media and support for Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory senior Jessica Urbina flowed in from around the world.
Late in the day, school officials said the events had “sparked a campus-wide dialogue which will result in a revision of policy.” The statement made no mention of changes to the class of 2014’s yearbook.
A beaming Urbina, who along with girlfriend Katie Emanuel wore a tie to school Friday, told reporters, “I’m appreciative of everything, like really I’m so frickin’ glad that my fellow classmates are rallying behind me. I’ve ever felt more love than I do right now.”She added, “I’ve seen people with all the ties. Honestly, I’ve cried multiple times, overwhelmed with all this support, so I just want to thank everybody who’s supporting me right now.”
The senior portrait in question showed Urbina, 18, wearing a black tux, a black bow tie and a broad, dimpled smile. Her tuxedo went against an Archdiocese of San Francisco policy requiring female students to wear dresses in yearbook photos, school officials said.
It was unclear when the school made the decision not to publish the photo in the yearbook, but Urbina’s brother, Michael, and classmates started the social media campaign Thursday evening. He tweeted his support Thursday: “As a former SHC student, feminist, LGBTQIA ally, and most importantly, a BROTHER, I stand in solidarity with my sister, 110% #JessicasTux”
After hours of silence, school officials released a statement Friday afternoon: “With each of our students we strive to affirm the value, worth and intrinsic dignity of all, and to foster a supportive and nurturing learning environment. The resulting meaningful discourse and reflection on the practices and policies of the school are at the heart of our mission as an inclusive, Catholic community of faith.”