Principal Bans Girl’s Prom Tuxedo Because Gender Roles Matter More Than Kids
Prom season is upon us, which means it’s time for school officials across the nation to start frothing at the mouth about girls’ choice of prom attire. Usually this particular brand of hyperventilation is focused on how much and what variety of skin a young woman is showing, but the principal of one Louisiana school put his foot down over one of the female students being–in his bozo opinion–too covered up.
Claudetteia Love is a senior at Carroll High School, and according to Raw Story, what her principal deemed a fashion faux pas was her request to wear a tuxedo to the senior prom. Now, those of us with discerning tastes know there are few things cooler than a lady rocking a well-tailored suit, but for a principal whose primary interest is in rigidly enforcing gender roles, a girl in a tuxedo was a no-go.
According to Love’s mother, who spoke to school principal Patrick Taylor about his decision,
“He said that the faculty that is working the prom told him they weren’t going to work the prom if (girls) were going to wear tuxes. That’s his exact words. ‘Girls wear dresses and boys wear tuxes, and that’s the way it is.”
Taylor also insisted that Love’s sexuality (she happens to be a lesbian) had nothing to do with his decision, which makes about as much sense as the idea that a mass faculty exodus needs to happen if a girl arrives at the prom wearing what she’s comfortable in.
Love is one of Carroll High’s top academic students and who has a full ride scholarship to Jackson State University for next fall, is hurt by her school’s willingness to drop her like a hot potato after her years of hard work:
“They put me in all these honors and advanced placement classes so I can take all of these tests and get good grades and better the school, but when it’s time for me to celebrate the fact that I’ve accomplished what I need to accomplish and I’m about to graduate, they don’t want to let me do it, the way I want to.”
Considering the usual pearl-clutching attention paid to how long a girl’s hemline is, how thick her shoulder straps are, and how deeply her neckline plunges, a girl deciding to wear a full suit instead of a gown should be an easily-scandalized administrator’s dream come true. But of course, the middle ground of what girls can wear without their choices being policed is shrinkingly narrow. Don’t show too much skin or you’re a ‘slut’, don’t wear a suit or you’re ‘mannish’.
It often seems like young women can’t win–but in this case, at least, there might still be a happy ending. The school board president caught wind of Taylor’s ruling, and pointed out that there’s no existing policy dictating what constitutes acceptable promwear by gender, and that making up rules on the fly because someone’s choice squicks you out isn’t okay: “That’s discrimination.” He’s set up a meeting in advance of the April 24 date for prom to discuss the issue with Taylor.
Since a girl wore a tuxedo to my high school prom and the world still hasn’t ended 14 years later, the consequences of Love winning this fight probably won’t be as dire as Taylor is afraid of. Love is planning to boycott the dance if she isn’t allowed to wear the clothing she prefers, but hopefully she’ll get the prom night she deserves.
(Image: Claudetteia Love / Facebook)