Mother of nine sues school for its 'opposite sex' dress up day

Steve Gonzalez Nov. 10, 2005, 6:25am

Some folks have a penchant for cross dressing. Others find it objectionable--especially when it is encouraged in public school.

A mother of nine from southern Illinois, clearly aligned with the latter, filed suit in federal court claiming Carrier Mills School District in Saline County violated the Constitution by instituting "opposite sex" day during its spirit week.

Lora Stanley, who parents six foster children and three of her own, claims children in grades k-12 were instructed to dress as a member of the opposite gender in order to receive a reward on Nov. 1, 2004.

Precisely one year later, she filed suit in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis.

“Stanley, who is a Christian and endeavors to direct the upbringing of her children according to principles according to the Bible, and being advised that the boys were wearing short skirts and large breasts groping themselves as part of the activities, pulled her children out of school to avoid exposing her children to the cross-dressing taking place in the school,” the complaint states.

Stanley pulled her children from school that day so they would not be injured by the stigma of being the only students not to participate and go unrewarded.

According to Stanley, she complained about the cross-dressing tradition in 2003, but claims the school dismissed her concerns. Her vocal criticism has drawn the attention of several local and national media outlets.

“By conducting opposite sex day at its schools, Carrier Mills violated Stanley’s rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to direct the upbringing of her the book of Leviticus in the Christian Bible, cross-dressing is forbidden by God,” the complaint states.

“Nonparticipation would also not prevent the interference with Stanley’s ability to raise her children according to her Christian values, as her children would be exposed merely by being present at school to sexual matters being cast in a light hostile to the religious principles she seeks to instill in her children," the complaint states.

Stanley claims that after exentisive media coverage she learned that one of her foster children was not receiving his Individualized Education Plan (IEP), a special education provision to which he was entitled.

She also alleges that school superintendent Richard Morgan placed several calls to the Department of Children and Family Services, reporting her as an unfit mother and foster parent. Stanley claims he told caseworkers that he would continue to make complaints until DCFS took actions against her.

According to Stanley, Morgan told DCFS that he removed his own children from her daycare years before due to filthy conditions, and publicly said that she was “crazy” and accused her of having “deep seeded problems.”

The suit alleges that Stanley's children also were harassed, threatened and received excessive punishment from school officials.

One of her foster children received an excessive number of detentions from a substitute teacher, who happened to be the superintendent’s mother, and then was denied the right to ride the bus home, Stanley claims.

“By slandering Stanley, denying her children needed special education services, and excessively and unfairly disciplining her children, defendants have engaged in a pattern of retaliation against Stanley for exercising her First Amendment rights to speak out against opposite sex day.”

According to Stanley, she pulled her children from the school to avoid further harassment and anything else that interferes with her religious values.

Stanley is seeking injunctive relief finding Carrier Mill’s opposite sex day as unconstitutional, as it violates her parental rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

She claims she has the right to direct the upbringing of her children according to a sincerely held religious belief.

Stanley seeks to prohibit opposite sex day and compensatory and exemplary damages, plus attorney fees and costs of the suit.

Jason Craddock of Sauk Village represents Stanley. The case has been assigned to Chief Judge Patrick Murphy.


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