• Prom dresses and tuxedos – what’s all the fuss about?

    Date: 03.20.09 | by Judge Tom.

    Do you think public school dress codes should prohibit girls from wearing tuxedos or boys from wearing dresses to the prom?

    tuxedopromdress

    Photo by mscottart (Flickr)

    There have been several challenges to these restrictions over the past ten years. In 1999, an Arlington High School senior succeeded in getting a court order allowing him to wear a dress to the prom. In 2006, a transgender student was turned away at the door of his West Side High School prom because he was wearing a gown.

    In March, 2009, a 17-year-old senior at Lebanon High School in Indiana sued her school when she was told that she couldn’t wear a tuxedo to her prom in April. She is a lesbian and doesn’t wear dresses. Her attorney said that “wearing a tuxedo makes an affirmative statement about her own sexuality.”

    It is well established that students have free speech rights. Does that include the freedom to express yourself  by dressing as the opposite gender? What do you think of gender-based prom dress codes? Would this have become an issue if she was heterosexual and wanted to wear a tux to the prom?

    A few weeks later, the school reversed its tuxedo policy. They stated that all students are to wear appropriate formal attire with no gender-based requirements imposed.

    Find out more about gay students’ rights.

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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    3 Comments subscribe to these comments.

    • Gay teens who just wanna dance | reportergary.com
      Thu, 14 Apr 2011 at 02:30

      [...] decided to allow Monique to wear a tux to her prom. Check out other similar cases concerning prom dresses and tuxedos in recent [...]

    • Andrew Shephard
      Thu, 23 Jun 2011 at 03:29

      I’m a boy and I wore a prom dress to the prom and I took my boyfriend with me (he wore a tux). There were 5 other boys in dresses and 3 girls wearing tuxes. There were over 100 of us there and everything went fine.
      Thanks so much for sharing this with us, Andrew. It sounds like you go to a school with a very accepting and respectful environment.

    • Chi Jung Chu
      Sat, 16 Feb 2013 at 10:46

      That is simply not right, you should be able to wear what you like.

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