Skirts Only, Or You Can’t Graduate

Well, this is a teachable moment, that’s for sure:

Douglas Byrd High School senior Bobbie Spanbauer was barred from participating in her school’s graduation ceremony Wednesday because she refused to wear a dress.

Spanbauer showed up for the ceremony at the Crown Coliseum wearing the clothing required for boys: black slacks, a white dress shirt, black belt, black tie, black dress shoes and black socks. Two diamond earrings sparkled on her ears.

Girls were required to wear a black or white dress, hose that matched their skin tone and black dress shoes with a closed toe and heels.

As the graduates were preparing to march, Principal Jackie Warner told Spanbauer she could not walk across the stage unless she wore a dress, Spanbauer said. Warner offered to get her a dress but Spanbauer said she refused.

“That’s not the point,” she told Warner. She never wears dresses, she said, and has a right to wear slacks.

“It’s my graduation,” she said later. “And I am appropriately dressed.”

When Spanbauer was told she could not participate, she tried to use one of her graduation tickets to sit in the audience but was again denied, she said.

Superintendent Bill Harrison said Spanbauer was not permitted inside because he heard she had planned to make a disturbance.

Lots of schools specify what you should or shouldn’t wear to your graduation. I remember, for example, that a couple of boys in my senior class had to be told not to wear just their boxer shorts, and I’m pretty sure we girls were told to wear dresses. But when you get right down to it, I don’t think my school would ever have prevented anyone from graduating for breaking the suggested dress code, nor would they have gotten this weirdly specific about it, right down to the color of the pantyhose. That strikes me as a little, um, controlling. What, were there outrageous instances of hot-pink hose with the words “Fuck you, Byrd High” on them at graduations past?

Thanks to reader A.

A.