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Illinois Girl Denied Right to Wear Tuxedo to Prom

Prom

A high school senior was told to wear something "more revealing" than a tux to her prom

I’m the first to admit I didn’t vet my current state very carefully (or at all). But when I moved to Colorado from New York seven years ago, I had a bad case of puppy love for the mountains. I also knew the town I was moving to had an impressive array of cultural offerings, plus it was 2,000+ miles from the Groundhog’s Day existence I was living in Manhattan. It was all I thought I needed to know.

Shortly after I moved, however, it dawned on me that Colorado was also a red state (which has since turned blue), and that was a strange thing after living in liberal New York for my entire life. And while I moved to a very liberal town, it was also a very small town of only 5,000 year-round residents, and we are surrounded by lots of gun-toting, anti-freedom of choice conservative-like towns. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but sometimes the peripheral consequences are things to take into consideration when you’re putting down roots.

As someone with left-leaning tendencies, I would know, for example, not to move to Mississippi. Not because it’s not a lovely place, because I’m sure it is. But because last year a young woman had to go to court just to be allowed to wear a tuxedo to the prom. That’s the kind of thing that seems like it would happen in a state whose flags resembles the Confederate flag, like Mississippi. Illinois, on the other hand — birthplace of Hillary Clinton and former home of Barack Obama — seems like it should be a safe state for a kid to choose her prom attire. Apparently, however, it’s not. Just ask yet another high school girl who was denied the right to wear a tuxedo to her prom.

At her Chicago-area high school, Belinda Sanchez complied with her principal’s orders to submit in advance a photo of what she’d be wearing to the biggest dance of the year. When she met with him, she explained the tux she wanted to wear would represent who she is. He responded by saying he didn’t want a “sideshow” at “his prom” and suggested she wear something “more revealing.”

“I was shocked,” said Belinda. “I didn’t know what to say. I felt like crying out of anger. I didn’t expect it from him.” ‘

In a letter sent to Proviso Township School District last week, Belinda’s American Civil Liberties lawyers asked the school to reverse its decision to deny her the right to wear what she wanted because it was in violation of her constitutional rights, that requiring girls to wear dresses to a school dance is gender discrimination not permissible under federal law, and it amounts to illegal sex stereotyping.

Thankfully on Friday, Belinda’s attorneys were informed that her request had been granted. Belinda plans to enjoy the prom later this month with a group of friends — and she’ll be wearing a white dinner jacket and black pants.

“A tuxedo fits who I am,” she says.

Move Illinois back over into the Safe column for liberals, or for people with left-leaning tendencies.

Do you think some states are more likely to discriminate than others? Do you think it’s OK for any school to tell a kid what they can wear to the prom?

Image: Creative Commons

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