A teenager in North Carolina successfully changed her high school’s dress code that prevented girls from wearing pants to their graduation ceremony.
Lacey Henry, a senior at Cumberland Polytechnic High School in Fayetteville started a change.org campaign late last month to petition the school’s requirement that girls wear black dresses, black heels and black panty hose for graduation.
“As a young woman in 2019, the students expect freedom of dress and choice for their body, but instead, their bodies are over-sexualized and objectified,” she wrote in the since-removed petition, Yahoo Lifestyle reported. “It is time for Cumberland Polytechnic High School to step into this century and remove these patriarchal standards for their students.”
The campaign reportedly pulled in more than 780 signatures when it was up.
“Heavier students are always in violation because their clothing can be tighter in some places and guys show their bare chests. The district once barred a girl from attending her own graduation ceremony — even as an audience member — because she wore pants,” Henry said to Yahoo Lifestyle.
Henry, a self-described “tomboy,” was moved to start the petition after she felt it was a violation of Title IX – a federal law that bans schools from sex- or gender-based discrimination.
“I personally do not feel super confident in a dress,” she said to the Fayetteville Observer. “I would have to go out and purchase a new dress.”
After the campaign took off, Henry sent a letter to her principal and the district superintendent about the dress code, Yahoo Lifestyle reported. To which, Henry’s principal responded by sharing a press release effectively changing the dress code.
“Cumberland County Schools’ Regulation Code: 4316-R3 Graduation Student Dress Code provides guidance on regalia requirements for high school graduations. Some additional graduation attire guidelines are developed at the school level to ensure all students are dressed in a manner appropriate to the solemnity of the occasion. However, school-level graduation guidelines will not require students to conform to a specific type of attire based on their gender, and they will be fully compliant with Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause. We will continue to provide guidance to schools as they finalize their graduation guidelines for the Class of 2019,” Principal Daniel J. Krumanocker Jr. sent to Henry.
Though Henry said that administration discussed her concerns and that an updated dress code was presented for her to view and sign, she said the amendments still require those who wear pants to graduation to also wear a tie.
“It’s definitely a deterrent for girls,” Lacey tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “But I will wear pants and a tie.”