Raining on Prom Night
High school prom is one of the highlights of many students’ time in secondary school.
Typically the climax before graduation, prom is the special and indeed legendary night in American culture where students can dress to the nines and enjoy each other’s company, often free from the stress of school and grades. The night is a final hurrah, if you will, before summer vacation and college tear up friends and classmates from their childhood roots.
Even in towns and areas where prom isn’t a huge deal, there is something about the night that immortalized itself in American teen mythos throughout the second half of the 20th century, from raunchy teen comedies to touching stories of young love. For many, senior prom can come to represent the quintessence of teenage freedom and youth.
And yet for one Pennsylvania teenager, prom became a night to remember for all the wrong reasons.
And it was all because of this tuxedo…
The Dress Code
Bishop McDevitt High School in Harrisburg, PA is your standard co-ed Catholic school. Founded in 1918, the tight-knit community is home to several hundred students, with notable alumni ranging from actors to numerous NFL players and even Stephen Reed, the longest serving mayor of Harrisburg who also happens to be serving over 450 counts of theft, fraud, and corruption from his time in office.
Like many Catholic schools, Bishop McDevitt has a dress code that all students must adhere to lest they face disciplinary action.
Senior Aniya Wolf has carefully followed that dress code for four years, but come prom night, the tuxedo Wolf believed to be acceptable garb turned into reason for a heated dismissal, a story that would soon make national headlines.
Why Aniya Got Kicked Out
Though cited as an infraction of the school’s prom dress code, you might be wondering how a tuxedo would get anybody kicked out of prom. Here’s the real reason:
Aniya is a girl.
In fact, Aniya is a lesbian, who describes herself as having masculine tendencies, such as wearing more traditionally “masculine” clothes and opting to wear pants and a shirt to school every day, which Bishop McDevitt’s dress code allows. And while the school does have some sex-based limitations on clothes and accessories, such as the rule that states male students cannot wear earrings, Aniya didn’t think it would be a problem to wear a tuxedo–the most appropriate prom outfit there is–to prom.
When she showed up at the dance, however, it was a whole different story.