Every two weeks or so, my sons have a silly dress-up day at school. Blue Day, Crazy Hair Day, Pajama Day, Super Hero Day, Career Day, that sort of thing.
The boys love getting out of their usual wardrobe, and it’s always fun to see the outfits on the playground before school as the kids giggle and laugh in the spirit of the day.
But is there a limit to the silliness?
A local middle school (grades 5-9) had a Cross-Dressing Day last week. It was labeled as “Gender Blender Day,” and kids were encouraged to mix it up and dress like the opposite sex.
One of the parents felt it was not appropriate for pubescent, hormone-raging teens. The mom and daughter weren’t comfortable with the theme, and they chose to have an at-home day.
My first reaction was, “You’re over-thinking it, it’s supposed to be fun.” Kids like to have fun and be silly, and I didn’t think it was a big deal. Then I started over-thinking it and saw how it could be interpreted by not only the kids, but by others in the community. The more layers I peeled back, the more concerned I became.
These kids are right in the heart of anxious puberty. They’re trying to define themselves. Is throwing their gender in a blender something that will make questioning kids uncomfortable? Would kids even be confident in who they were want to cross-dress? What about kids with parents who are genderqueer? Is cross-dressing in a silly school spirit way an equivalent of blackface?
Then there is the thought that a day like this doesn’t have to be about sex or sexuality and could actually work to foster understanding of the opposite gender.
I saw clearly the pros and cons of both sides and honestly couldn’t decide where my opinion landed.
These sorts of spirit days are optional. The mom didn’t need to keep her daughter home, she could have just not taken part in the fun, but would that have opened her up to teasing too?
We recently had a bout of peer pressure parenting where we didn’t want our son to stand out from the crowd, but we wanted to stick to our values. In the end, it was no big deal, and he wasn’t picked on. Still, we worried, as this mom did.
I don’t want to be hyper-sensitive, I don’t want to be too PC. I don’t want to bubble-wrap and be a buzzkill but … I don’t think this is something the school should have done. There are many other ways to fire down the middle of the road and still create school spirit.
So what do you think? Is a Cross-Dressing Day a good way to increase school spirit in a middle school or is it discriminatory and insensitive?