"She's the image of a model graduate, this year's recipient of the Heart of Chapin Spirit Award, proud of her school from tassel to class ring, but Chelsea Sarvis' school won't allow her to participate at graduation without the dress."
South Carolina's Chapin high school has a strict dress code for graduation: dress slacks for boys, dresses or skirts for girls. And Chelsea Sarvis can't graduate, they say, without a skirt - and under a cap and gown, no less. Sarvis, who wore a tux to her school's prom, says, she's "not trying to be direspectful", according to the Wis10 article, and adds "If girls are uncomfortable with their bodies like I am, I just don't like wearing them...Why is it a stereotype that a girl has to wear a dress?"
While it makes us sad that discomfort with her body is a factor in the decision - she shouldn't need a justification for wearing whatever she likes (as she says, "If it looks nice, why can't they wear it?") - we're also just baffled by such retrograde rigidity. Says Feministing's Jessica Valenti, "What really gets me is that the principal of this school is actually enforcing the dress code, and in turn enforcing traditional gender roles." The principal comes off as far more clueless than malevolent, not that that's ever better.
"It's certainly appropriate to ask young ladies to wear a dress or a nice shirt and a nice outfit and young men to wear slacks, a shirt and a tie...If a young man showed up in flip-flops and shorts, and said I wanted to walk, we'd say no you can't."
And in addition to the familiar, trying anility of the knee-jerk position is the utter incomprehensibility of this level of obliviousness. Have they not heard of the ACLU? Of similar rulings in Delaware and Nebraska? That they haven't, as school administrators, is almost as worrisome as an educational philosophy that privileges outmoded views and Inherit-the-Wind rigidity over students' well-being.