A Catholic School Is Getting Backlash For Requiring Prom Attire To Be "Gender-Specific" And "Pre-Approved"
Students and alumni are also voicing concerns.
In order to attend prom, each girl at Delone Catholic High School in McSherrystown, Pennsylvania, must send in photos of the front and back of her dress for approval.
Many students and parents are not happy about the recent policy change, which also requires all prom attire to be "gender-specific."
"Women's gowns may not be extremely short, have an extremely low cut front or back, have any excessively high cut slits, have overly revealing midriffs, or be inappropriately revealing — giving the illusion of nudity," the guidelines state.
The policy change has sparked concern among parents and an online petition protesting the rules.
"Our children will not undergo scrutiny of prom gowns based on outdated, unrealistic expectations and rules implemented at such short notice," a Change.org petition states.
Nickie Russell, a mother who signed the petition, told BuzzFeed News the school has rejected both of her daughters' dresses. Russell bought them for a combined $988 months before the school emailed her about the rule, she said.
"It's frustrating," Russell said. "I am a rule person and if you saw my daughter's dress, it has only two very small panels of sheer on the side, but it's a nude color dress. I bought it for her. As a mom, I thought it looked fine."
The school told her the sheer part of her daughter's dress was an allusion to nudity.
After getting 255 signatures, petition creator Rebecca Reck closed the online form last week and said she'd submit it to the principal.
Delone alumna Emily Sheahan wrote:
When I was a student at Delone, the threat of having to wear a giant T-shirt over your dress seemed to work well enough for girls. It's ridiculous that for one night these girls cannot express one thing about themselves that no other girl has. Why not just make the dress code the uniform at this point since these students have been given such short notice? Also, the gender specific dress code is appalling.
Current students like Cheyenne Altland also chimed in:
I feel that my fashion choices for prom do not have any bearing on the strength of my Catholic Faith and my school can not tell me otherwise.
BuzzFeed News reached out to Reck for comment.
On Facebook, however, some commenters supported the school.
"I agree with the school!" Delone alumnus Chuck Lambert wrote. "There are MANY who support the good that you are trying to do and accomplish. Keep fighting the good fight. IF the dress is questionable in ANY way, then it probably isnt appropriate. Fashion can be VERY attractive, flattering, sophisticated, modern, and yes...even sexy without looking slutty or whorish. Ladies...act and dress like Ladies. Gentlemen....act and dress as Gentlemen."
In response to the backlash, the school released a statement on Facebook.
"The principles in these guidelines have remained steadfast for the past 23 years," it reads. "The only change this year is the requirement of young women to submit photos for review by prom moderators."
Here's the entire set of rules:
This dress code has been established to help make your prom meet the values of Christian leadership. All young women and men in attendance, whether a member of the Delone Catholic student body or a guest of a Delone Catholic student, need to be dressed in gender-specific formal wear. Students wearing inappropriate attire (as deemed by the Prom Committee and/or Administration) will not be permitted into the prom.
Women's gowns may not be extremely short, have an extremely low cut front or back, have any excessively high cut slits, have overly revealing midriffs, or be inappropriately revealing — giving the illusion of nudity.
Gentlemen must be in formal attire: tuxedo or complete suit coat, dress pants (no shorts), dress shirt, and tie.
All young women planning to attend the Delone Catholic prom, whether a member of the Delone Catholic student body or a guest of a Delone Catholic student, will need to submit a photo of the gown that will be worn to the prom for pre-approval. This must be done prior to purchasing prom tickets.