Ah, the prom. That awkward night of teenagers dressing up and pretending to be adults remains one of our most long-standing and universal rites of passage. As such, it often seems to reveal a lot about how far we have — and haven’t — come in breaking down traditional norms around gender and sexuality. For every trailblazing trans teen who runs for prom king, or cross-dressing boy who wins prom king, or gay boy who wins prom queen, you’ve got teachers lobbying for LGBTQ-free proms and lesbian couples prohibited from attending or sent to a fake prom instead.
The latest tale of gender policing at prom comes from Cherryville High School in North Carolina, where high school senior Shafer Rupard was kicked out of her prom for wearing…pants. Via WBTV:
“The teacher tapped me on the shoulder and said she had a problem with what I was wearing,” said Rupard. “I thought it was because of the hat or the leather jacket and I was like well I’ll take those off and she was like no, it’s the pants.”
Seriously? I know part of prom’s charm is that it’s a quaint little throwback to the 1950s, but a woman wearing pants hasn’t even been close to scandalous for decades. As Rebecca at The Mary Sue asks, “Were the pants made of anthrax? Were they toxic pants?” I mean, I know proms are typically semi-formal, but Rupard’s red skinny jeans looked sharp. And there’s nothing in the school’s handbook about a dress code for prom.
Rupard’s mother said, “It’s just the way she’s always been and she wanted to feel comfortable in her own skin. We want to put out the message to all teenagers that you should be allowed to be yourself.” Word.
Maya wishes she could pull of red jeans.