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Toe ‘tomboy’ battles, changes high school dress code that prohibits girls from pants at graduation

A high school student started a campaign to change the dress code that pulled in more than 780 signatures.
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A teenager in North Carolina successfully changed her high school dress code that prevented girls from wearing pants to their graduation ceremony.

Lacey Henry, a senior at Cumberland Polytechnic High School in Fayetteville, began with a change.org campaign late last month to the petition of the school’s requirement that girls wear black dresses, black heels and black tights for graduation.

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“As a young woman in 2019, the students expect that the freedom of the dress and the choice for their body, but instead, their bodies are over-sexualized and objectified,” she wrote in an already-deleted petition, Yahoo Lifestyle reported. “It is time for Cumberland Polytechnic high School to step into this century and remove these patriarchal standards for their students.”

The campaign reportedly pulled in more than 780 signatures as it was.

“Heavier students are always in violation, because their clothing can be tighter in some places and guys show their bare chests. The district one time excluded a girl from attending her own graduation ceremony, even as a member of the public because she was wearing pants,” Henry said on Yahoo Lifestyle.

Henry, a self-described “tomboy”, was moved to the start of the petition after they found it to be a violation of Title IX – a federal law that prohibits schools from sex – or gender-based discrimination.

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“I personally do not feel super confident in a dress,” she told the Fayetteville Observer. “I would have to go out and purchase a new dress.”

After the campaign took off, Henry sent a letter to her principal and the district superintendent about the dress code, Yahoo Lifestyle reported. To which Henry’s principal responded by sharing a press release effectively changing the dress code.

“Cumberland County Schools’ Regulation Code: 4316-R3 Graduation Student Dress Code provides guidance on the regalia requirements for high school graduations. A number of additional graduation dress guidelines are developed at the level of the schools to ensure that all students are dressed in a manner appropriate to the seriousness of the occasion. However, school-level graduation guidelines do not require students to conform to a certain type of clothing on the basis of their gender, and they will be fully in compliance with Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause. We will continue to provide guidance to schools as they complete their graduation guidelines for the Class of 2019,” Principal Daniel J. Krumanocker Jr. sent to Henry.

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Although Henry said that the administration has discussed her concerns and that an updated dress code was presented for her to review and sign, she said that the changes still need those who wear pants to graduation is also wearing a tie.

“It is certainly a deterrent for girls,” Lacey tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “But I wear a pair of trousers and a tie.”

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