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LGBTQ students push for gender-neutral Graduation Gown custom

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LGBTQ group says high schools should no longer have gender-specific gowns at graduation ceremonies. (WPEC){ }

For years, boys and girls have been wearing different colored graduation gowns - usually in the school's colors - when they get their diplomas.

But some in the LGBTQ community think that's a dated tradition whose time has passed.

Lake Worth High is one of a handful of high schools in Palm Beach County where boys wear one color gown and girls wear another color at graduation.

That could soon change.

“I feel like it’s time to change. Why sir? Why is it time to change? Our generation is different from the other ones," Helton Avila Vasquez said.

Vasquez, 19, is a Lake Worth High senior who will graduate next May and he plans to go to a trade school and become a plumber.

Traditionally, at graduation here, senior boys wear maroon gowns and senior girls wear white. They’re also seated in separate sections.

“I think we should just, it’s time to change that," Vasquez said.

Some in the LGBTQ community also feel it’s time for a change.

“When you make it so that boys have to wear one color and girls have to wear another, it can be divisive and cause a lot of stress for those students who may or may not identify as one or the other. I feel it’s a policy that doesn’t necessarily have a place anymore,” said Michael Riordan, spokesperson for Compass, an LGBTQ community center in Lake Worth Beach.

Aiden Wood, 17, a senior at Lake Worth High and starting center fielder on the boys' high school baseball team, hopes to become a lawyer or law enforcement officer.

“Why not have both all wear maroon and represent the school together. We’re all one. We’re all graduating together so why not share that school spirit together," Wood said.

Other students, though, see no reason to change.

“I just think the boys should wear different colors than the girls. I think that’s better, so we can know which gender is which. That’s the best way to do it," said Jennifer Liseus, 18, a senior at Lake Worth High School.

We could not reach Erica Whitfield, the Palm Beach County School board member who has been pushing for this change.

It's not clear at this point if a decision will be made in time for the 2020 high school graduations next spring.


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