Maria Muniz, a 17-year old student at the Pedro II school in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, was recently fined by the school for wearing a skirt. The problem isn’t that it was too short or too tight, violating Pedro II’s uniform policy. The problem is that Maria was born Mario, and the school decided that since Maria was born male, she must wear pants.
“I always turned up in trousers but I felt repressed and, for me, wearing a skirt was about expressing my freedom over who I am inside and now how society sees me,” Maria said, according to Orange News.
Days after being handed down her punishment, Maria’s classmates decided to protest. Students – both male and female – wore skirts to show support for Maria and to let the school’s administration know that they believed the punishment was wrong.
After the act of civil disobedience, the teachers were forced to back down on their punishment, reported Orange News. The school’s principal said it was considering relaxing the rules.
“The sexual orientation is not important for us; all our students are equal,” the administrator said. “However the uniform determines male and female clothing, but we will study a new manual of coexistence.”
“I am really happy about the way my classmates supported me,” said Maria, “and I hope it serves as an example to others to feel encouraged to do the right thing. I was always taught at school to accept who you are; I am only trying to live that.”