EAST SETAUKET, NY — A Long Island high school decided all graduates will wear the same style graduation gown — a departure from a tradition of differently colored robes for boys and girls — as a way “to promote more inclusive practice” at graduation.
The new gown will be green with a gold stole. Graduation gowns at Ward Melville High School, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, used to be green for boys and gold for girls.
“In addition to creating a unified senior class, it is our hope that creating a unifying color scheme will eliminate the anxiety that is caused by forcing a young adult to wear a gown that labels them differently than how they identify,” Principal Alan Baum wrote in a letter to parents Thursday.
About 100 students walked out of the school Wednesday in protest following the announcement, Newsday reported. Some students at the school feel it is important that boys and girls wear separate colors.
“If there are people that identify as a gender other than the one that they received at birth, then they should choose which color they prefer,” student Max Gironda wrote in a petition which now has more than 900 signatures. “This has been a tradition for all of the classes before us to wear their school colors one last time and this should not be changed.”
Other students who support the change have started a response petition, which has more than 500 signatures. Some of the comments made by supporters of the separate gown tradition have been “truly appalling and archaic,” student Brianna LaSita wrote.
“Tradition, as many emphasize, is not always right,” LaSita wrote. “Allowing everyone to feel comfortable and happy on their graduation day is what is ultimately important. These colors should in no way divide us or box us in to ideas we do not agree with.”