On Friday night, Bishop McDevitt High School student Aniya Wolf was kicked out of her prom, and warned by school officials that they would call the police if she didn't leave. Her crime? She was wearing a suit.
Bishop McDevitt's dress code for prom, however, was different from its daily wear restrictions—girls would have to wear formal dresses to be allowed in. The prom dress code was specified a few months ago, the school wrote in a statement, and Wolf's parents were explicitly reminded of the rules later on:
The full dress code policy was sent to parents about three months ago. A reminder was sent to all students on March 6. On Friday afternoon, when it was brought to the attention of the school administration that a female student was planning to wear a tuxedo, we contacted her mother in hopes we could resolve the situation.
The school added, "Without question, we love, respect and cherish all of our students."
But Aniya's mother, Carolyn Wolf, said she wasn't aware that the dress code meant her daughter had to wear a dress. “I told them that I had read the dress code that was given to the students and I didn’t think that it precluded her from wearing a suit," she told WHTM, adding, "I said that this was very unfair, particularly at the last minute. We had gone out and bought a new suit. I think my daughter is beautiful in a suit."
Aniya pointed out that her suit was considerably more conservative than her classmates' dresses. "A lot of the girls' dresses… they do show a lot of skin. I think I'm dressed pretty modestly." The school's regular codes specifies that "student dress must be modest."
Many have rallied around Wolf, condemning the school's actions on social media:
One alumna wrote on Facebook, "I'm sorry McDevitt this is and was wrong!!!! …. God bless this young lady who was dressed very nicely and as she said, had more skin covered than many of the other girls they admitted!"
Her brother, Geoff Wolf, also posted about his sister's experience on Facebook, writing, "My sister did a great job constructing a well thought out and mature argument as to why her high school's prom dress code is unfair as it establishes and encourages gender stereotypes… Sorry your night got ruined Aniya Wolf, but just know you have a lot more people supporting you than those who don't."
Some of her female classmates apparently planned to wear pants on Monday in a show of solidarity:
Wolf welcomed the gesture, but remained true to her message—dress the way you want to dress.
Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.