A transgender student at the O Colégio Pedro II in Brazil found an entire class of allies this month, proving that the LGBT movement is alive and well in South America.
The incident began when 17-year-old transgener student Maria Muniz was fined for wearing a skirt to school; the skirt conforms with the school's student code of ethics mandating girls wear skirts and boys wear trousers.
Refusing to acknowledge her gender identity, a teacher fined Maria, claiming that she must wear pants. Maria's classmates then rose to defend their peer — students, both male and female, came to school wearing skirts.
Maria was reportedly ecstatic by the display of solidarity.
"I am really happy about the way my classmates supported me, and I hope it serves as an example to others to feel encouraged to do the right thing." she said, according to Orange News. "I was always taught at school to accept who you are. I am only trying to live that."
Instead of fining the entire student body, the school decided to allow Maria to wear skirts to school and is now deliberating how to revise its student code of ethics.
"The sexual orientation is not important for us, all our students are equal," principal of O Colégio, Pedro II, said, according to Orange News. "However, the uniform determines male and female clothing, but we will study a new manual of coexistence."
Supporters have also been showing their support for Maria and her classmates, both in the Portuguese and English, via Twitter using the hashtag #VoudeSaia:
An authentic demonstration of courage and companionship. My support from Spain to this student. Discrimination has no place. #VoudeSaia— Nieves MolinaJiménez (@NievesMolinaJim) September 13, 2014
Faith in humanity: RESTORED. #VoudeSaia— Ceci GS (@cecig2158) September 15, 2014
#VoudeSaia Me encanto lo que hicieron por su compañera. Todas las felicitaciones a ese grupo de chicos!! IGUALDAD PARA TODOS!!— Único ? (@LucasAsselbon) September 16, 2014
Brazil is at somewhat of a crossroads when it comes to acceptance of its LGBT citizens. While there have been positive signs — transgender models, for example, have prospered in the country, and gay couples gained the right to marry in 2013 — the nation's conservative culture has not been completely won over.
"Many transgender people try to live normal lives, but society in Brazil rejects them," Pep Bonet, a photographer who has spent time working with the country's transgender community, told MSNBC. "They're forced into work that's not so common, prostitution being the main one. The reality is they don't have the same rights as other people."
Brazil also accounts for a disproportionate number of the world's transgender murders.
Still, the show of support from Brazil's next generation is definitely a good sign for the country's future. Maybe Maria Muniz and her classmates will be the ones who finally rid their country of the cultural stigmas that still prevent too many LGBT Brazilians from living a life free of prejudice.