They were denied access and asked to leave the school prom event for turning up in a black suit instead of a dress.
A student at Nashville Christian School was banned from attending his senior prom due to a "dress code violation." B Hayes, who uses the pronouns they/he, was stopped from attending the prom because he turned up wearing a black suit instead of a dress, reports The Washington Post.
On April 23, Hayes posted a picture of themselves standing outside the prom venue with a sign board that read, "They wouldn't let me in because I'm in a suit." He explained the context behind the photo in the caption writing: "I'm 18 years old and I’ve been attending Nashville Christian School for 13 years. My senior prom was today and I wasn’t allowed in the doors because I was wearing a suit. I should not have to conform to femininity to attend my senior prom. I will not compromise who I am to fit in a box. Who are you to tell us what it means to be a woman?"
A spokesperson from the Nashville Christian School told CNN that it has established dress code requirements for both school attendance and special events. “All students and families are aware of and sign an agreement to these guidelines when they enroll," they said.
Moreover, the school said that its "expectations regarding appropriate prom attire were communicated to this student and the student's family in advance of the prom. While we certainly respect a student's right to disagree, all of our students know from our school handbook that when they do not follow such expectations at school-sponsored events, they may be asked to leave," according to NPR.
However, gradually, Hayes's post began to grab the local community's attention. “It’s been amazing to see so many people share, like and comment on my post. I never imagined it would get this amount of attention,” Hayes said.
Marcie Allen Van Mol, who owns AB Hillsboro with her husband, saw Hayes's Instagram post and felt heartbroken. “You have an 18-year-old young adult who is trying to enjoy the last five weeks of their senior year and experience prom as we all did,” she said. “That simple thing is a rite of passage."
Her husband agreed and they decided to do something to help Hayes enjoy his graduation. They came up with the idea to host a private prom at their venue so that he would be able to celebrate the milestone.
Once she posted her idea on social media for support, several small businesses reached out to help. Allison Holley, the owner of Apple & Oak, a home goods store in Nashville, decided to pitch in. “I was just appalled,” said Holley. “The fact that a child wouldn’t be allowed into prom because they’re wearing pants is just absurd. We are so proud of B in this, not only for posting it but for not conforming and being themselves."
Holley started a GoFundMe page called "Throw the ultimate prom for B," to raise funds for the event. They received about $26,000 just on the first day. Many others also offered to pool in for the prom. They received messages from florists, photo booth companies, designers, restaurants, photographers and many more people. “Everyone just wants to support this for B,” said Holley. “We have such strong small businesses here, and they’re always willing to step up.”
View this post on Instagram
Both Holley and Van Mol have decided to use the money to pay small businesses that helped organize the prom. Moreover, any additional money that is left will be equally given to Inclusion Tennessee and Oasis Center, two organizations that support LGBTQIAP+ rights.
The prom will be held on May 6 and Hayes will be inviting 25 friends to attend. R&B artist Tone Stith has been signed to do a private performance as well. Hayes said that he is grateful to have received so much support. “Knowing that not only the Nashville community is behind me but people all over the country are supporting the issue is incredible to see,” they said. “I hope the awareness can bring about positive change and that more students in the future feel strong enough to stand up for freedom of expression.”