Lesbian student not allowed at her prom

From Slate:

“School Justifies Barring Tux-Wearing Girl From Prom: Boys Wear Suits, Girls Wear Dresses”

“A high school in Pennsylvania says it was within its rights to toss out a student from prom because she chose to wear a tuxedo rather than a dress. Aniya Wolf told WHTM-TV that authorities at Bishop McDevitt High School in Harrisburg made her feel like “a mistake” for her decision to forego a dress to the prom. The school, however, says Wolf failed to follow a clear dress code for the prom that was laid out months in advance. “The dress code for the prom specified girls must wear formal dresses,” the school said in a statement. “It also stated that students who failed to follow the dress code would not be admitted.”

No one was surprised by Wolf’s decision to not wear a dress to the prom, least of all her family. Wolf, who is a lesbian, says she wore shirt and pants to school throughout her three years at Bishop McDevitt. “I’ve just always been like this, ever since I was little,” Wolf said. “I was always more masculine.” Then at the last minute, the Wolf family claims the school sent out an email saying girls had to wear dresses to prom. Wolf’s mom, Carolyn Wolf, called the school to complain. In the end, Aniya decided to go anyway and was quickly escorted out by a school official who even threatened to call the police if she didn’t leave.”

At this link, you can view a video of Wolf speaking. In the video, they specifically mention that she is not transgender. This doesn’t surprise me, because nowadays lesbians who insist on wearing tuxedos to the prom are assumed to be “men in women’s bodies.”

It breaks my heart that she was made to feel like “a mistake.” That was quite deliberate on their part. For many generations now, and we’re talking more than a hundred years, women who defy gender norms and who love other women have been subject to discrimination and violence from people who want them to be just like everyone else. There are some lesbians who can more or less fit in because they look like other women, and there are some who look different and stand out no matter what. Those who look obviously gender nonconforming are currently subject to a massive PR campaign telling them they are really men in women’s bodies and can be “fixed.”

This bullying by the staff at Wolf’s school is a part of the effort to disappear the gender nonconforming lesbians. They wanted her to either attend prom in drag as a feminine woman, which she is not, or not attend at all. Lesbians are given this exact ultimatum all the time–either conform or be kicked out of regular society. Those who are unable to perform feminity have no choice but to live as men if they are to fit in. There is currently tons of support for women who “fix” their nonconformity with the feminine social role by adhering to the male social role instead and modifying their bodies so that they appear to be men. However, there is very little support for lesbians who choose to challenge gender norms and live authentically as nonconforming women.

Thank goodness that in this case, the student’s mother is supportive of her lesbian daughter.

I didn’t attend my prom. I didn’t fit in with high school culture at all, didn’t fit in with the other students, and couldn’t picture myself there at all.

Gender nonconforming lesbians are not men and are not mistakes. They are fantastic exactly the way they are. This young woman is brave and strong and I wish her all the best.


32 thoughts on “Lesbian student not allowed at her prom

  1. That is extremely sad. No doubt if she had identified as trans there would have been no problem. How discriminatory is that?

    But it’s not just lesbians who are GNC. I wear male clothes and have done for years. Basically they are more practical, comfortable and often cheaper than silly women’s frilly frocks. Does that make me a man? Of course not.

    Two of my lesbian friends got married a few years ago. One wore a very typical feminine dress, the other wore a smart trouser suit. Did anyone care? No. We all wished them much happiness together.

    When it’s ok for men to dress up as women but not ok for women to dress how they want, there is something severely wrong. Oh wait! It doesn’t matter what women want or think, does it?

    Liked by 6 people

  2. It’s wrong. It sounds like victimisation. How upsetting it must have been for the girl and the family!

    No one ever talks about a lot of gay people being naturally gender non conforming. It’s something observed, but it’s never explained. In my experience. All efforts to understand are dismissed with, “Feminine, camp gay men and butch lesbians are a stereotype”, with, stereotype as a word usually meaning a slanderous, uncomplimentary, bad thing, in the PC world we’re supposed to adhere to. Or, GNC women get offended by innocent questions about it, everyone’s feelings get hurt, and the asker feels they can’t talk about it as a taboo topic, or something they’re just supposed to understand but perhaps they’re incredibly naive, (something those of us brought up in extreme religiousness tend to fear about themselves, I think), or stupid or something. It’s kind of like asking Mormons about what goes on in the temple or something. So, I got into reading blogs on WordPress to try to understand about GNC dressing and seeming people, and, I’ve learnt things and now understand better. But the thing is, trans is talked about so much more, in the media and so on – trans has been hugely publicised in recent years – so, I think probably the majority of people in the public genuinely think GNC clothes mean trans. The rules change here seems disguised personal victimisation to me, but, because of what I’ve just said, maybe some of the organisers at the prom, and even the hideous numpty who escorted this poor girl away from the it, thought she was just being a rebellious teenager who was flaunting the rules for the sake of it, not realising that it was about her personality and being a lesbian. It’s a Catholic school, and as such, as a former cradle Catholic, I would expect that they put huge emphasis on rules and what they call filial obedience, on correct behaviour protocol. I’m just being honest, because women who are lesbians being non conforming gender wise but not trans is something I think really needs publicity. Generally speaking, I don’t think it’s malice against lesbians, I think it’s a lack of information.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I’m as gender non conforming as they come and have been for about 50 years. As long as folks are respectful and don’t ask what do you do in bed, I’ll answer any questions someone puts forth. I take every interaction as an opportunity to inform others and let them see me as a person who, despite my differences, is fundamentally the same as everyone else. If you’re confident in who you are, you shouldn’t get upset when someone asks questions. No one else can destroy your reality and your experiences. If someone’s offhanded comment or tackless question throws you into a whirlpool of despair, crushes your fragile ego and your identity, you’ve got some serious mental health issues that no “sex” change is going to fix.

      Liked by 3 people

      • The Roman Catholic Church teaches that being lesbian, bisexual or gay isn’t sinful providing there’s celibacy. I can’t speak for Pennsylvania as I’ve always been in Britain but a lot of Catholics are socially liberal here and left wing.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Pennsylvania is a fairly liberal mid-atlantic state, but there are a lot of rural pockets and a lot of religion, so it depends on where you are and who you are with. Catholics here are pretty conservative in my experience, though the younger they are the more open-minded. There are a lot of open-minded ex-Catholics. 😉 The Catholic schools always seemed very strict to me, with uniforms and whatnot while public schools had none.

          Philadelphia (hence the name of the movie) is pretty gay city, but it’s tucked in a corner away from the rest of the state. Harrisburg is more central, surrounded by rural farmland (and some Amish/Mennonites, which is another story entirely – I can’t imagine being gay in one of their communities!) but I know they have a big gay pride festival there, too, as I know a lesbian couple nearby who invited me down one year.

          “Providing there’s celibacy” is like a knife in the heart of a sexual orientation. When I first came out, my mom (not Catholic, but having a hard time getting used to the idea of homosexuality in the house) would say “Well you’re not really gay because you’re not in a relationship.”

          Uh, no. I am still really gay. Really, really gay.

          Liked by 6 people

        • I think it’s totally unreasonable – of course. I just mean I don’t think the school would be allowed to discriminate just for her being gay. They’d just teach she has to be totally celibate n be alone for her whole life while everyone straight is getting to have good times and families, which is totally cool – not.

          Liked by 2 people

        • There is something terribly sad about a parent with a lesbian child sending her to Catholic school. The mom sounds really supportive otherwise.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Often the Catholic schools have better education than the local public schools. That was the case in my town, although we shifted from public to Catholic because we were getting beat up in the public school.


        • Thanks for filling in details. I know a little – actually had a Pennsylvian pen friend once, and since I’ve always been a bit intrigued by the Amish, she sent me a fab illustrated book about them – but I don’t really know American Catholics – The U.S. always seems drastically more conservative than here, in an overall every place sense.

          Liked by 1 person

        • That has long been my understanding about okay to be gay, but not engage in sex. I’ve always found this to be rather cruel. Be gay and never have a loving relationship in your life and essentially be forever alone. The one thing that virtually every person on this planet desires is to find love and someone to share all that life entails and the Church relegates you to the ash heap. Makes me glad I’m an atheist.

          Liked by 4 people

  3. My first thought was “I bet she could have worn it if she identified as trans, and they might have nominated her as prom king, too.” which infuriated me.

    Very glad her mother is supportive and the story is getting attention. This is two hours from me, by the way. Yay, Pennsylvania. Harrisburg is thought to be pretty gay-friendly, too.

    I did wonder if it was a Catholic school, though, with that name. Catholic schools would be especially hard on any gay students. It’s still horrible. It’s 2016 for heaven’s sake, not 1995 anymore.

    In 1995 I had a camp-out in the backyard for myself and any friends who weren’t going to the prom. Some stopped by afterwards. Hot dogs and s’mores on a spring evening seemed like a much more fun alternative to whatever the prom was supposed to be.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I doubt a Catholic school would do trans so I doubt they’d have let her go as trans. Official RC teaching condemns being trans, whereas, unless a gay or bi person told people they were having same sex physical intimacy, the church would leave them alone under the pretext they were celibate, as happens at my mother’s church.

      A lot of Catholics like to be so easy going and friendly with others that maybe a Catholic school would accept trans children, but then again no I doubt it as the bishop would get to know and the bishops have the last word on the Catholic parish matters, including schools. That is in the States though so I’m not sure.

      Liked by 1 person

        • ThisSoftSpace I don’t trust him at all. Not at all. But he has been Christian in some ways n shows concern about the environment so I can appreciate that.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. When I was inducted into National Honor Society in high school, they demanded I wear a dress. My mom had to call and explain that I didn’t own a dress and I wasn’t going to wear one. They backed down. Had the same fight at my high school and college graduations. I wore pants and guess what…the world didn’t end. They threatened to not give me my diploma if I didn’t conform, but in the end they realized it wasn’t worth the trouble. Today, school officials are much more aggressive (for want of a better word) in demanding conformity.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. This seems to me a constitutional violation under the equal protection clause. They used that for same sex marriage: if straight people get to engage in marriage contracts with other individuals, then everybody does. So if anybody gets to wear tuxedos, everybody does. The formal dress code isn’t the problem, it’s gendering it. Two choices: prom dress or whatever they asked the boys to wear.

    I didn’t even attend my high school graduation, let alone the freaking prom. I was just glad to get out of there.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I hear you. I hated high school. I had some great teachers that I really liked, but putting up with the constant harassment was exhausting. I have never been to a class reunion. No one I’d ever want to see. I worked on the night of the prom for the photographer who was taking the pics.


  6. A bit off topic but this reminds me of a fab, heart warming BBC TV documentary, (British), I saw about 5 years ago, about a 16 year old boy who wanted to go to his school’s prom as a drag Queen. Unfortunately it’s no longer online but here’s the start:


    He’d been wearing dresses n glitter n boas etc all his life at home, and his mam had no problem with it, (single parent).

    They didn’t have proms when I was at school. I was too ill to go to school often anyway from age 13, and drastically didn’t fit in.


  7. I hate the religious thing where gay people are okay as long as they don’t do anything gay. They think they sound nice saying “hate the sin, love the sinner” but what they’re really saying is “gay people’s love is so evil that they should not be allowed to love anyone.” That’s absolutely not acceptance. There is nothing wrong with two women or two men loving each other, both emotionally and sexually.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. It’s really sad. She kept smiling in the video but I bet she was really upset on the quiet. So unfair! The school staff didn’t make waves about her being GNC for years and then, at the finale, the prom that means so much to lots of kids, all of a sudden they slam down on her, make her feel like “a mistake”… Very Christian, I don’t think.

    Mind you, I’d never send a child to a Catholic school and wonder why her supportive mother made that choice. I don’t agree with their ethos and I’m not all that surprised at what happened. What’s more surprising is that the school were fine about it for years. It all seems very inconsistent and cruel.


    • As an ex Catholic, I wonder if they thought her short hair and comfortable clothes were just about her trying to look chaste and pure. It was a huge no no to look in any way femininely attractive when I was at Catholic school. Loose long hair wasn’t allowed, or, dyed hair, or, make up, or nail polish, or, high heeled shoes, or, figure hugging clothes, or any sort of jewellery apart from a discreet crucifix necklace. Any pretty look at all was rebellion and very short hair was fine. If you didn’t want to rebel and wear make up etc like me, you were called a goody too shoes pi, (short for pious). That was 30 years ago, but Catholics are very trad.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That might make sense, but only if they’re very, very unobservant. I know what you mean about Catholic schools. In the small town where I grew up a lot of my friends attended a private convent school, taught almost entirely by nuns. My own private girls school was fairly prim but it looked liberal compared to the convent.

        Sex was the thing they got most warnings about. The nuns never stopped on the topic and, as a result, those girls were the wildest ones in town. Sex n drugs and roll n roll. To the nth degree. Even the parents noticed. Send your daughter to the convent, have her turn into the promiscuous kid of your nightmares. The school closed 20 years ago, perhaps partly because the school was running out of nuns but also because it got such a terrible reputation.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I know what you mean about not letting children be exposed to meaningful and frank talks about sex, drugs, etc. The valedictorian of my high school class was the daughter of a Baptist minister. She was kept on such a short leash she wasn’t even allowed to walk around the block in her own neighborhood (a very nice one, BTW) without being accompanied. She went to college at UVA and ended up having sex, drinking, doing drugs and put on a ton of weight. She ended up flunking out. She was so micromanaged, she never learned to make responsible decisions and never had the freedom to experience all of life’s vicissitudes.


        • I think they often are very unobservant because everything tends to be about what’s going on upon the surface at Catholic schools, rules and forms and protocol, and the deeper reality is ignored. Doesn’t matter what you are as long as you seem obedient.

          Yep, convent school girls re notorious for it. Madonna, sex symbol bombshell of the 80s, was Catholic. Mega flirty ex convent school girls well as – women doing femininity for themselves. Like one of my idols, Kate Bush. What an artiste, no puppet, everything inspired n directed by herself, but she still had her lace dresses n crimped hair n lipstick and her lame bra, (was watching this of her last night – she’d be 19 here, so not long out of convent school, which seems a giggle – https://m.youtube.com/?#/watch?v=fRFQVMJf5eI )


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