The most coveted dresses for school dances this season show some skin. Cutouts, sheer paneling, high leg slits, short hemlines, and strapless tops are just a few of the popular styles that students are wearing. But showing up in one of these types of dresses meant that some students weren’t allowed into Bingham High School’s homecoming dance.
On Saturday night, about a dozen students were denied entry into the dance at the South Jordan, Utah, school. While officials gave the girls who were wearing dress-code-breaking outfits the option to change clothes or put on a sweater, a few decided not to attend at all. Then, on Monday, with school in session, some of the teenagers still upset by the weekend’s incident staged a protest and were joined by 100 of their peers.
Photo Courtesy Maddi Rowley
Senior Cierra Gregersen had bought a little black dress with a keyhole and crisscross-strapped back for the dance and was one of the students who declined to cover up and decided to leave. She also wore the dress to school on Monday to make a statement. “I understand having a dress code for a learning experience,” she told local news station Fox 13. “But when it comes down to a dance, that’s our time to be rewarded for being good students, and we should be able to express ourselves.”
The dress code, which was relayed to students weeks before the dance, stated that dresses should cover the chest and back at the top of the armpit, and hemlines shouldn’t rise higher than midthigh when sitting. The school could not be reached for comment.
Students leaving class with Cierra Gregersen in her Homecoming dress. Photo Carly Figueroa/Twitter
In addition to the walkout, Kristi Frost, a parent whose daughter was allowed in the dance without issue, is encouraging the girls turned away to file complaints of discrimination against Bingham High School and the school district. One student, Maddi Rowley, was asked to change her blue sequined minidress and has started a Change.org petition. “The too-strict dress code encourages the sexualization of women,” she wrote, “and the boys who had purchased tickets previous to the dance did not get their money refunded even though they were not admitted to the dance.” So far, she’s collected 80 signatures, and many are commenting with their support. “I also do not believe that it is healthy or fair for these young women to constantly be scrutinized for how they dress,” mom Dominique Swinyer wrote. Student Noelle Robbins wrote, “I’m tired of going to a sexist school everyday, and having to listen to men tell me to dress modestly as to not distract them. I am more than my body.”
Bingham High School isn’t alone in setting strict restrictions for school dances. Earlier this year, a North Carolina school turned away 10 students from the prom for violating the school’s dress code. In Virginia, a 17-year-old was kicked out of her prom because some of the chaperones were concerned that she was inspiring “impure thoughts” among the boys in attendance.
Mostly, the girls who were “coded” for the dresses were embarrassed about the way they were treated and want an apology from the school. But in lieu of that, maybe they should look at it this way: At least Bingham High School isn’t the one in “Footloose.”