A homecoming dance dress code policy out of a Utah high school is receiving intense criticism this week after administrators put their policy in action – stationing themselves at the entrance to Bingham High School in South Jordan and forming a gauntlet-like inspection line to judge who was allowed to enter. Over two dozen teens were barred, and parents and students are speaking out about their so-called “inappropriate” dresses.
Writes The Associated Press: “Parents and students at a Utah high school say they’re angry at the way school administrators enforced a dress code at a homecoming dance. Students were allowed to enter while wearing strapless dresses, which are permitted, but other students wearing gowns with straps, sleeves or high necks were flagged because they had keyhole openings in the back, parents said Wednesday.”
On Monday, dozens of students, many of them wearing the dress that got them barred from Saturday night’s dance, staged a walkout. Television crews were on hand to cover the protest. Several parents have sent in letters (and photos) to school district officials expressing outrage and demanding explanations of the way the school handled the perceived dress code infractions.
In addition to the video above, the Daily Mail carried photos of some of the dresses that were deemed inappropriate, based on the parameters defined in the school’s dress policy.
The Bingham High School website lists two dress codes; one is specifically for dances. That code outlines:
Dresses should cover chest and back at the top of the armpit and should be secure and stay in position. Hemlines should go no higher than mid-thigh when seated. Boys should be in collared shirts and no jeans. Students who fail to follow these guidelines will be not admitted or removed from the dance.
Girls who were kicked out said the stringent interpretation of those rules, and the resulting humiliation, were outrageous.
As the pictures show, one girl’s dress was floor-length and high-necked, but showed “too much back.” While strapless dresses were allowed, others with small openings in the back or lace / mesh gaps were determined to be in violation of the policy.
Erika Shepherd, who arrived in a floor-length dress that was ultimately deemed too low in the back, said, “They pulled me to the side and asked me to twirl around to see if I was immodest, then made me sit against the wall. And while I was sitting against the wall there were about ten other girls that were sitting there being embarrassed.”
Taylor Gillespie wore a knee-length, purple halter-neck dress. She said she even sat down and checked the hemline before purchasing the dress. When she arrived, she said the teachers “just took a wild guess and said, ‘You’re not admitted in.’”
Taylor’s father, Chad Perhson, said, “I asked them why they turned her away and then showed them a picture of her on the phone I’d taken myself of her sitting down where the dress meets her knees.” Perhson said the school could not provide him with a specific explanation, instead referring him to the four sentence dress code “policy.”
“To turn my daughter away, and to get her upset over an evening that she spent four hours trying to get ready for… and then to have it blown apart, is completely off the wall,” Perhson said.
Parents are irate, and say their teens have been shamed and penalized. Many spent money on their outfits. The school also charged students for tickets to the dance – money that incredulously will not be refunded to students barred from entering.
“I am very angry, especially because my date couldn’t get his money refunded. Surely you can understand the injustice. I’m nearly an adult, and my parents allowed me to go out in this dress,” said Maddi Rowley, another student prevented from entering.
Bingham High School’s principal, Chris Richards-Khong, said all the students were given advance warning and guidelines, and that those who were prevented from entering were given the choice to change or put on a coat. Some did.
“The effort is not to embarrass them; it’s to teach them so they change the behavior,” Richards-Khong said.
Pehrson rebuffed that, saying, “It doesn’t take much to humiliate a young person that’s trying to be their best. My daughter came home in tears.”
Kristie Frost was allowed to enter, but she said 10 of her friends were not. “It’s not about the dress code,” the 17-year-old said. “It was the way the administrator applied the dress code that was the problem.”
What are your thoughts on the dress code and some of the dresses? Should these girls have been allowed in? Sound off below.