(11/16/04 - SPURGER, TX) — Note to boys in the tiny Spurger, Texas, school district: Put away those high heels and pleated skirts. Instead, wear black boots and Army camouflage to school Wednesday.
A parent's concerns prompted the district 150 miles northeast of Houston to scrap its annual "TWIRP Day" -- when boys dress like girls and girls dress like boys-- in favor of "Camo Day."
TWIRP stands for "The Woman Is Requested to Pay," and for years Spurger schools hosted the day during Homecoming Week to give boys and girls a chance to reverse social roles and let older girls invite boys on dates, open doors and pay for sodas.
Plano-based Liberty Legal Institute issued a news release Tuesday reporting that it "came to the aid of a concerned parent requesting an excused absence for her children on official cross-dressing day in her children's elementary school."
"It is outrageous that a school in a small town in East Texas would encourage their 4-year-olds to be cross-dressers," Liberty Legal Institute attorney Hiram Sasser said in the release.
Tanner T. Hunt Jr., the school district's attorney, called Sasser's statement "inflammatory and misleading." Hunt said the district never planned or conducted a "cross-dressing day."
"They are a tiny little East Texas school district," said Hunt, a Beaumont attorney. "It never occurred to them that anyone could find anything morally reprehensible about TWIRP Day. I mean, they've been having it for years, probably for generations, and it's the first time anybody has complained."
Delana Davies, a 33-year-old mother of three, said she contacted Superintendent Angela Matterson on Tuesday after reading a school notice about "TWIRP Day."
Davies, whose 9-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter attend Spurger Elementary, said she viewed the day not a silly Homecoming Week activity, but as an effort to push a homosexual agenda in a public school.
"It's like experimenting with drugs," said Davies, who also has a 2-year-old daughter. "You just keep playing with it and it becomes customary. ... If it's OK to dress like a girl today, then why is it not OK in the future?"
After speaking with the Liberty attorney, Matterson agreed to exempt Davies' son and older daughter from attending school on Wednesday. However, district officials later decided to scrap "TWIRP Day" altogether and replace it with "Camo Day," where students will wear camouflage clothing.
"I just think it's unfortunate," Hunt said. "It was just never intended to be anything other than just an innocent, fun day for children."
Matterson did not return telephone messages from The Associated Press on Tuesday.
The Spurger event is not the first to cause controversy in a school district.
In Illinois, parent Laura Stanley complained this month about an "opposite sex" dress-up day at Carrier Mills-Stonefort Elementary School.
Stanley said the activities sent a message of gender confusion and risked subjecting her young daughters to sexual harassment by "a bunch of adolescent boys who have suddenly grown breasts and are groping themselves."
"I don't think it was a liberal agenda," said Stanley, a 35-year-old mother of eight biological and foster children. "I think it was just foolishness, just being funny, being silly, but it opens the door for other things to happen."
In New York, officials at Hastings High School put a stop to Cross-Dressing Day in October after school officials suggested guys in chiffon skirts and brassieres and gals with painted-on mustaches were distracting and disrespectful to transgender people.
In Spurger, Davies said she will dress her son in camouflaged overalls and her daughter in a camouflaged T-shirt and denim skirt for "Camo Day."
"I'm happy that it's turned out like it has," she said. "But I don't want them pushing it on me again in a few years."
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)