1. Take your coach as a date.
In April, Melissa Bowerman, a 41-year-old volunteer track coach at an Oregon high school, went to prom with a 17-year-old boy on the team. She says she was doing a good deed — the kid didn’t have a date, and she only agreed to accompany him if he raised his English grade. She even had his Dad’s permission. The school board, of course, didn’t see it that way. Bowerman was fired from her job at the school after complaints came in from chaperones at the dance.
Bowerman maintained that her relationship with the boy was perfectly innocent. At prom, she “danced to a few slow songs but mostly played ping pong and foosball” with the boy, who – by the way – is closer to her in age than her 73-year-old husband and fellow coach, Jon Bowerman, who also happens to be the son of Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman.
2. Give out shot glasses as party favors.
Because if you do, Mothers Against Drunk Driving is coming for you. In 2006, the group fought an Arkansas school that gave out souvenir champagne glasses at prom, as well as a Georgia school that gave out martini glasses. And in 2009, students on the governing council at a Pennsylvania high school ordered 450 shot glasses as prom party favors favors, even tricking the assistant principal to sign off on the order form.
3. Plan prom to coincide with a porn expo.
The success of a prom depends largely on its venue. So, school officials, before you pick a place, maybe check to see what else is going on a that weekend. Like, say, a giant pornography industry convention called Exxxotica Expo.
On May 19, 2012, Miami Beach Convention Center was taken over by a swarm of high school students gettin’ down to Rihanna in their formalwear and — on the other side of the building — a mass of porn stars gettin’ down to each other in their, uh, business wear.
Teachers, staff and security were reportedly on hand to keep the two hormonal groups from mingling, but parents still showed up outside the center to make sure their children were protected from the pornography professionals of Exxxotica Expo.
4. Braid your hair.
In 2000, Patricia Welsh, then principal of Hillcrest High School near Chicago, all but banned braided hair at prom by strongly discouraging students to refrain from braiding their hair. Both male and female students took it personally, fighting back against the principal for discouraging a popular African-American hairstyle that was “a symbol of who they are.”
More than a decade later, policies banning or discouraging braided hairstyles still exist. In 2011 , a British High Court ruled that a London high school had to lift its ban on cornrows after claims of racial discrimination.
5. Be old.
Or at least 19. That’s how old Tiffany Gall was when her 18-year-old boyfriend asked her to prom at his Florida high school — the same school where she had been a member of student council and the cheerleading team two years earlier.
But the school only allowed dates who were either current students or students one year removed — not two. Gall and her younger man caused such a stir that local companies offered to pay for the couple’s $100 tickets if the principal allowed them to attend.
6. Be gay or lesbian.
It seems like every year brings a gay-student-banned-from-prom controversy, but few stories are as powerful as Constance McMillen’s 2010 prom saga. The Mississippi senior requested to bring her girlfriend (and fellow student) to prom and was denied — and then told she couldn’t wear a tuxedo. She challenged the denial, which led the school to cancel the prom, which led to a lawsuit from McMillen.
A court ruled that the school had to hold the prom as planned, but in the ultimate mean-girl twist, only seven students showed up, including Constance and her girlfriend. The other students had organized a secret, lesbian-free prom.
Blatantly disregarding the timeless lessons of Footloose, some high schools still ban dancing. In 2009, Ohio student Tyler Frost was suspended from his Baptist high school for dancing to rock music and hand-holding at girlfriend’s public school prom.
More recently, two chaperones at a Colorado prom sprayed a group of dancing students with Lysol. The female chaperones said the student girls involved were “sluts and whores” who were “advertising butt sex.” The Lysol-spraying ladies do face charges of harassment.
8. Ask your date out extravagantly.
In May 2011, Connecticut student James Tate snuck into his school at night and hung up cardboard letters reading “Sonali Rodrigues, will you go to prom with me? HMU - Tate.” (“Hit Me Up?” Classy, Tate.)
The young lover was given in-school suspension for trespassing and banned from prom. The media storm began, ultimately leading the school’s headmaster to reverse her cruel punishment.
9. Segregate the dances.
In 2009, the New York Times revealed a disturbing tradition in Montgomery County, Georgia. Since 1971, two proms have been thrown: one for white students and one for black students.
The dances aren’t actually organized by the school, but rather through private student and parent groups. According to the Times, all students are welcome at the black prom, but the white prom operates with a “largely unspoken set of rules about who may come.” And the problem isn’t just limited to Montgomery County — segregated proms are apparently still scattered throughout the South.
10. Pregame with pot brownies.
A prom in Atkinson, New Hampshire, was cut short last year after 11 students ate marijuana-laced brownies and three attendees were hospitalized with violent illness. The prom was shut down around 10 p.m.
Quote of the night goes to Atkinson Police Chief Philip Consentino, who told the Boston Globe: “I’m leaning toward the assumption that they knew what they were doing.”
11. Go alone.
Going to the prom without a date? Kind of a bummer. Being ditched by your date a week before the prom? Worse. Getting banned from prom because you don’t have a date? Painful teenage agony, at least for Amanda Dougherty, a 17-year-old from Pennsylvania.
In April 2012, Archbishop John Carroll High School told the high schooler that she couldn’t come without a date, despite her pre-purchased tickets ($95) and outfit ($1,000). Instead of getting the Philadelphia Archdiocese to lift the rule, Dougherty had to find a new guy.
12. Wear a revealing dress.
The popularity of skimpy dresses that take a “the less fabric the better” approach to prom styles has risen dramatically over the past few years. In March 2012, a high school in Oklahoma released a highly detailed 12-page code that laid out the “NO’S” of prom ensembles. Dresses that are too short or too skin-bearing were banned.