Christian school bans student from prom for wearing suit instead of dress
Nashville Christian School said B Hayes violated their dress code. Somehow.
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On Saturday night, an 18-year-old high school senior named B Hayes (he/they, according to Instagram) went viral after standing outside the entrance to the Nashville Christian School prom with a sign reading, “They wouldn’t let me in because I’m in a suit.”
my name is B Hayes. im 18 years old and i’ve been attending Nashville Christian School for 13 years. my senior prom was today and i wasn’t allowed in the doors because i was wearing a suit. i should not have to conform to femininity to attend my senior prom. i will not compromise who i am to fit in a box. who are you to tell us what it means to be a woman?
It’s a heartbreaking way to spend what’s meant to be a pinnacle of your senior year.
But at least one aspect of the story felt strange to me at first: Was the dress code a surprise to B? It seemed more likely that this was the expected outcome, which would explain the pre-made sign, rather than an unpleasant surprise B discovered at the entrance.
That turned out to be the case. B was apparently told in advance the school would not allow them in without a dress. The sign was part of a planned protest. (And an effective one, given the reach of the picture.)
Even so, why did the school object to B’s suit? Setting aside the desire to “conform to femininity,” a pantsuit shows far less skin than most prom dresses. School officials should’ve appreciated the modesty.
But assuming all this is accurate, we all know why they did it. Christian schools are notorious for demanding that students conform to gender stereotypes, going overboard if anything seems remotely scandalous. And they always have strict dress codes. (In 2015, a different Christian prom kicked out a male student for wearing a kilt.)
What’s heartening is how classmates “fought hard” to get school officials to let B inside, even if it didn’t work. Even the DJ at the dance chimed in online, saying he didn’t realize this was happening and would’ve done something had he known. He then offered B his services for free for any celebration this year.
B did not respond to my multiple requests for comment.
What about the venue? The prom took place at the (ironically named) Loveless Cafe, which presumably had no say in the school’s dress code or the decision to not let someone in. However, the cafe can choose whether or not to work with groups that are explicitly anti-LGBTQ like the Nashville Christian School. The cafe also did not respond to my request for comment on whether they have, or plan to have, any policies when it comes to working with explicitly anti-LGBTQ groups in the future.
The school, however, has weighed in. A spokesperson confirmed B’s version of the story with The Daily Beast and said this was a matter of a student not following the dress code:
In a statement to The Daily Beast, Nashville Christian School said dress requirements had been established “for daily school attendance and at our special events.”
“All students and families are aware of and sign an agreement to these guidelines when they enroll,” the statement read. “The school’s expectations regarding appropriate prom attire were communicated to this student and the student’s family in advance of the prom.
“While we certainly respect a student’s right to disagree, all of our students know from our school handbook that when they do not follow such expectations at school-sponsored events, they may be asked to leave.”
Nothing in that statement makes the school look good. That’s partly because the official dress code for the “Junior/Senior Banquet” isn’t as explicit as you might think. According to the Nashville Christian School’s student handbook, last updated in 2022, the relevant rules for prom say students cannot attend the event with someone “of the same gender/sex” (no surprise there) and that all attire must be “appropriate for modesty” and consistent with the school’s other rules. The latter rule is so vague, it creates countless loopholes for anyone eager to test the boundaries.
Based on what’s written, there’s nothing that says a girl wearing a suit violates the rules.
Even if B technically broke the rules, though, what did the school accomplish by banning B from prom? Instead of giving students a memorable experience, prom will be remembered for the one student they excluded. A night that could highlight the school at its best turned into a dogpile online as people deservedly dragged the school through the mud. Administrators confirmed what critics of Christian schools often say: these institutions are hotbeds of bigotry. They have no love for LGBTQ students. They stifle creativity. They make a big deal over nothing while ignoring much more serious problems.
It’s mind-boggling that any private school would rather kick a student out of prom for wearing a suit instead of a dress than just let it slide because no reasonable person would actually give a damn.
Based on the Instagram comments, there are plenty of graduates and current students at the school who say this sort of anti-LGBTQ treatment is routine at Nashville Christian School and that they’re embarrassed to be associated with the place.
It’s hardly the kind of reputation you want your school to have. Unless, of course, your sales pitch to parents is that you preach bigotry to the point that many graduates are ashamed to be connected to the school.
Kudos to B for publicizing the absurdity of the Christian school’s narrow-minded and thoughtless dress code. For someone who’s graduating in a matter of weeks, it’s a hell of a way to leave a mark.
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