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Catholic high school demands preapproval of prom dresses

Monica Beyer is a mom of four and has been writing professionally since 2000, when her first book, Baby Talk, was published. Her main area of interest is attachment parenting and all that goes with it, including breastfeeding, co-sleepin...

Prom dress controversy sends parents scrambling

Just a few weeks before prom, the Delone Catholic High School has notified its students that they need to send in photos of their prom dresses for approval before the big day, and parents are fighting back.

Parents and students are now scrambling to alter dresses they already purchased or are hoping the shop allows their return. And if they haven't purchased a dress, they have to submit a photo of their chosen dress — this means they run the risk of the dress being gone by the time it's approved. While the school claims the dress code has been in place since September, the photo requirement was only recently announced.

Not only is there a requirement that prom wear is gender-specific (that is, if you're biologically female, you must wear girl formal wear, and if you're biologically a male, you must wear boy formal wear), but there are other requirements that prom dresses must adhere to. For example, there can be no short hems, cleavage is a no-no, and nude-colored linings are forbidden.

Although the petition is now closed, a group of parents is using the collected signatures to try to change the school principal's mind.

"We as the paying customers of Delone Catholic have been notified about antiquated and unreasonable restrictions imposed on the formal wear for the May 2015 prom," the petition reads. "Restrictions have been posted six weeks before the prom. Many parents have purchased non-refundable prom gowns. We have not been given a set of guidelines in a reasonable amount of time."

Many say that since the school is private, it can institute any sort of dress code it wants, and in fact, public schools do so on a regular basis as well. The issue here is not only the timing but the fact that school dress codes so often target females. Even when I was a kid, I noticed that the dress code was put into place so students are not a "distraction" in the classroom. The funny thing is that most of the weight of a dress code is borne by females — no strappy tank tops, no short shorts and no bare midriffs. This says that teen males cannot control themselves, nor their thoughts, so the girls have to do it for them.

The school in question here states that it expects students to prioritize the Catholic identity of the institution, but a few students have chimed in on the petition with some enlightening thoughts. "I am a student of Delone Catholic and I feel that my fashion choices for prom do not have any bearing on the strength of my Catholic Faith and my school can not tell me otherwise," writes Cheyenne Altland.

Bingo.

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