A Catholic high school in Pennsylvania is under fire after it kicked a girl out of her prom because she wore a tuxedo instead of a dress.
Aniya Wolf wasn’t allowed to attend the prom at Bishop McDevitt High School in Harrisburg because the school says she wasn’t following the dress code.
“Sadly, I was not admitted into the Prom. I was forced to leave,” Wolf, who is a lesbian, wrote on Facebook Friday after the prom. “The principal threatened she would get the cops. What an experience. Lol they can’t take my pride.”
The principal, Sister Mary Anne Bednar, could not be reached for comment. But the school did post a statement on Facebook.
“Without question, we love, respect and cherish all of our students,” the school said. “The dress code for the prom specified girls must wear formal dresses. It also stated that students who failed to follow the dress code would not be admitted.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Wolf Says She Has Always Felt ‘More Masculine’
Wolf, a junior, is not transgender and identifies as female, ABC 27 reports. She told the news station she has always felt “more masculine,” wearing clothes traditionally worn by boys.
She wears a shirt and pants as her school uniform, Wolf told ABC 27.
“I’ve just always been like this, ever since I was little,” Wolf told the news station. “I was always more masculine. You wouldn’t catch me playing with any Barbie dolls, I’ll tell you that right now.”
She wrote on Facebook on Saturday, “Thanks to abc27 for sharing my story. It means a lot. A great big thanks to all my friends and family for the love and support.”
2. The School Says Wolf & Other Students Were Told About the Dress Code in March
Bishop McDevitt High School posted a message about the incident on Facebook on Saturday night, the day after the prom.
“The full dress code policy was sent to parents about three months ago. A reminder was sent to all students on March 6,” the school wrote. “It’s important to note that students who haven’t adhered to the dress code in past years haven’t been admitted to the prom. Bishop McDevitt will continue to practice acceptance and love for all of our students. They are tremendous young men and women. We simply ask that they follow the rules that we have put into place.”
The email below was sent on March 3. It says “modesty is the overriding principle” for girls, and that “dresses are to be formal,” but does not state that dresses are required for girls:
Bishop McDevitt will hold its annual Junior/Senior Prom on Friday, May 6th, from 7-11 pm. Current Bishop McDevitt juniors and seniors are eligible to attend prom. Sophomores who are invited by a McDevitt junior or senior may also attend. No freshmen are permitted at prom. (*Ticketing information will be available in April.)
The dress code for prom is as follows:
Girls: Modesty is the overriding principles in determining dress for the dance. Keeping this in mind, the following dress code must be followed. 1.Dresses are to be formal.
2.Skirt and dress lengths must be no shorter than 3 inches above knee.If the dress has a slit, the slit cannot be any higher than the tip of the girl’s fingertips.
3.Dresses are not to have bare midriffs or be skintight. They should not ride up as you dance.
4.Backless dresses may not be cut below the natural waistline.
5.All necklines must be modest-NO PLUNGING NECKLINES! Dresses may have spaghetti straps, halter type tops, or be strapless as long as they meet the neckline requirement.
6.Dresses that are laced together in the front cannot reveal bare skin under the lacing.
7.Dresses with cut outs are not allowed. When your arms are at your sides, there should be no skin visible in front of your arms. If a dress has cut-outs, it may be worn if it is altered so that cut-outs are lined with opaque (not see-through) fabric.
8.Sunglasses are not allowed.
1. Gentlemen must wear a suit and tie.
2. Dress shoes are required. No sneakers or boots.
3. No sunglasses, canes, hats, or other props are allowed.
Students who do not follow the dress code will NOT be admitted into the prom. No refunds will be given.
Aniya Wolf told ABC 27 she had been looking forward to the prom for awhile and decided to go anyway.
“I think my experience shouldn’t be any different than anyone else’s because of something I was born with,” she said. “You know, a lot of girls’ dresses, I mean I’m not saying that all of them are this way, but they do show a lot of skin, she said. “I think I’m dressed pretty modestly.”
3. Wolf’s Mother Says Her Daughter Looks ‘Beautiful in a Suit’
In its Facebook post, Bishop McDevitt said it tried to contact Wolf’s mother, Carolyn Wolf, on Friday when administrators learned the girl was planning to wear a tuxedo, “in hopes we could resolve the situation.”
But Carolyn Wolf told ABC 27 she supported her daughter.
“I told them that I had read the dress code that was given to the students and I didn’t think that it precluded her from wearing a suit. I said that this was very unfair, particularly at the last minute. We had gone out and bought a new suit. I think my daughter is beautiful in a suit,” Carolyn Wolf told ABC 27.
4. She Has Been Invited to Attend the Prom at a Nearby Public School District & to Appear on the Show ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’
Aniya Wolf and her date have received an invitation from a nearby public school district, ABC 27 reports.
Teachers in York City School District heard about the story and had the idea. William Penn High School Principal Brandon Carter then invited Wolf to the school’s May 21 prom.
Wolf told the news station she plans to attend.
She has also said she has received support from other students, who she says always made her feel comfortable. Wolf said it was school administrators who made her feel like a “mistake.”
Some of her fellow female students said on Twitter they planned to wear pants to school as a form of protest.
And Wolf has received support from across the Internet:
She was even invited to appear on the hit show “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” by comedian Rob McElhenney:
Wolf gave a shout out to her supporters:
5. Bishop McDevitt Has Been Bombarded With Angry Messages on Facebook & Twitter From People Supporting Wolf
Jacklyn Motter, a senior at Bishop McDevitt, commented on the school’s Facebook page about the decision:
I’ve had the privilege of getting to know and become friends with Aniya this past year. I was so upset I couldn’t spend my senior prom with her, even if it meant sharing a dance or jamming out to a song together, she would have definitely put a smile on my face last night.
This was my second prom with McD and from experience, I’ve seen students who are utterly disrespectful in the classroom, spend a ton of time in detention, fail classes, show up to school high/drunk, and so on, get admitted into prom WITHOUT A PROBLEM. To not allow a girl to enter prom for wearing a tuxedo is absolutely contradictory to what we “practice” and “preach”.
I’ve always been so proud of my school and have loved telling people I’m a Crusader, but this event made me want to hide my McDevitt T-shirt when I wore it in public today.
Aniya showed up to the hotel dressed more modestly than any of us girls and she looked beautiful. Very disappointed in my school, and it’s sad to see so many alumni disappointed as well. Shame on everyone who had a part in denying Aniya’s admittance, what a terrible memory to take with me as I prepare to graduate.
This wasn’t about her appearance at all, seems to me like this was a personal issue with Aniya.
Only a few of the nearly 600 comments on the school’s Facebook post supported its decision to not allow Wolf to attend the prom. Many of the comments came from alumni and current students. Several of the alumni comments claimed they will no longer be giving money to the school.
The school administration has not commented since it came under attack on social media.