The expression of the self is a topic that causes controversy in different areas. Some disapprove of the ways that younger individuals choose to express themselves either through clothing or other accessories. In some cases, students are met with strict codes and rules that are enforced which can prevent one’s expression of self. In the case of B Hayes, an 18 year old senior at Nashville Christian School in Tennessee, what should have been a fun, eventful night for Hayes ended up exposing problems with the school’s dress code and concept of femininity.
As Hayes tried to enter the venue where the senior prom was being hosted, they were denied entry because they chose to wear a suit to the occasion. In a caption on a viral Instagram post they wrote: “I should not have to conform to femininity to attend my senior prom.” When asked about the incident, Nashville Christian said they “respect a student’s right to disagree” but apparel guidelines were communicated to the students prior to the event.
Although the school can hide behind the guise of simply following the rules and dress code provided, rules are not always morally justifiable. In this instance Hayes choosing not to wear a suit is not harmful, and is simply an expression of themself during a special occasion.
Hayes could have conformed to the dress code, but a big part of enjoying what is a quintessential high school experience starts with feeling comfortable. At an age where peer acceptance is at its height, schools should support students dressing in a way that does not immediately conform to a need for external validation. Had they worn a dress, not only would it have been inauthentic to Hayes, it could have ruined the quality of an experience that only happens once. The school did not have to be as harsh in enforcing the dress code since the suit was appropriate and inoffensive.
This incident is a perfect example of an institution overstepping and taking control of how a young student can express themselves. This sort of censorship over self-expression occurs all over the country. Although it is understandable to have some limits and rules as to what a student can wear at a school or school function, this was not at all justified or necessary.