At 19, William Carruba is old enough to serve in the army and vote. But according to his school administration, he's still not allowed to dress himself for prom.
Carubba, who's of Scottish descent, was planning to don a kilt with his family's tartan, instead of a standard old tuxedo on his big night out, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch. Even his date was excited about his outfit. (She has a crush on fellow Scotsman Gerard Butler).
But when the school board for Carruba's Missouri high school got wind of his plan, hub-bub ensued.
"It's not what we call normal wear," his school superintendent said at special meeting addressing the great kilt conundrum. "We must adhere to our [dress] policy, to do otherwise would be reckless on our part."
A kilt with a family crest is reckless but a tux with blue ruffles isn't? Explain that logic.
It's assumed that "recklessness" is code for cross-dressing , after comments were made about how "men should dress like men" for the prom.
While progress has been made in the past few years, prom brings out the worst in school officials. All the tolerance and anti-bullying messages go out the window, when one night a year, school leaders ban same-sex dates and thwart transgender or non-conformist kids from just being who they are.
The top-down mandates breed student cruelty too, as evidenced by Constance McMillan , shut out of both her high school prom, and later, her grade's "private" prom , simply because she wanted to bring her girlfriend as a date. It's up to officials to set the precedent of tolerance in a school, and when they don't it's even harder for kids to accept each other.
But this generation of high schoolers are already more tolerant than those who came before them. It was students who elected the country's first ever transgender prom queen last year. And students who supported the high school senior who fought for the right to wear a tux to her prom.
In Carruba's case, he had the backing of several fellow students and his date when he challenged school officials for the right to wear his kilt.
He made a great case too: "One of my great-grandfathers came to this country in the 1700s for freedom," Carubba said. "Saying I can't wear my kilt ... is a pronouncement that I cannot honor my family."
Still, the school board was unmoved, and backed up their decision to ban his kilt with the world's most infuriating reason: "attending the prom is a privilege, not a right."
When it was all over, Carruba said he understood "full-heartedly" and apologized for any fuss that was made over the issue. He added simply, "I'll just wear pants."
Aside from bullying a kid into dressing "normal" and promoting a culture of intolerance, it's hard to tell what exactly the school accomplished. Administrators could learn a lot from students, so why aren't they listening?
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