Saturday July 20th, 2024 12:19AM

Student starts online petition for gender-neutral graduation robes

A Gainesville High School senior has started an online petition to urge the school system to switch to gender-neutral graduation robes.
 
Word of Anakate Lloyd's effort came through a Wednesday media release from Unbendable Media, a communications firm in Washington, D.C. The petition is on the Care2 website.
 
Gainesville High School, like many across Georgia, has different colored robes for male and female students. At GHS, the robes are red and white.
 
Lloyd, who identifies as gender fluid, takes issue with the separate colors, saying gender fluid and trans students are not legally allowed to graduate with their chosen name.
 
"So many students feel like the color of graduation robes is something that we should have control over and that greatly affects the overall equality within the school and the world in general," Lloyd stated in the media release. "Everyone I’ve spoken to feels that the exclusive robes perpetuate a culture of inequality.”
 
Lloyd wants a switch to red robes for all seniors, claiming in the release that they were ordered for the senior class but sent back in favor of the traditional robes in two different colors.
 
The Care2 petition page shows a two-tone robe with the school logo on the left shoulder. 
 
"The single robe in the picture provided is the only robe we ordered. We did not order a whole set of them. We asked the company to produce a single example so we could use it when asking for feedback for future graduations," GHS Principal Tom Smith said.  "The class of 2018 will graduate in the traditional all red and all white robes."
 
Gainesville City School System Superintendent Jeremy Williams said he was approached about changing the robes.
 
"Given the time of the year and graduation just a few months away, I believe more input is needed before making the change," Williams said in an email statement. "We are open to changing the robes for future classes, and prefer GHS engage the School Governance Council, students, their families and the community."
 
Meantime, Lloyd said there's been a backlash since she started the petition.
 
"I've become such a target, and some bullies even made a counter petition to 'keep tradition,'"Lloyd said in the release. 
 
As of mid-morning Thursday, the petition had garnered just over 5,600 signatures from within the U.S.  While some signatures originated in Georgia, others came from locations throughout the country, some from as far away as California.
 
According to its Facebook page, Care2 bills itself as, "...the largest social network of activists creating petitions, making a difference and living healthy."
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