When students at White Pass Junior and Senior High School in Randle, WA were told to dress up as their favorite celebrities for the “come as your favorite celebrity” day during Spirit Week, the chances that someone would show up for class as a high profile female role model or celebrity performer should not come as any surprise.
But when two male students chose to come dressed as female celebs, they were given a choice by their principal: either change or go home. Mason Mudge attended classes dressed as Miss America, while Chandler Krueger came as pop star Nikki Minaj. Both sophomores chose to go home for the day rather than change out of their feminine attire.
The next day, many of the school’s students showed up for classes dressed as the opposite sex to show solidarity with the two boys. No one was asked to change their clothes and no one was sent home.
“I think it’s really awesome that all the kids support me and support the decisions that I made,” Mason Mudge, who dressed as Miss America, told USA Today.
“If they really wanted Spirit Week, why punish somebody for being spirited?” asked 15-year-old Chandler Krueger in an interview.
Chuck Wyborney, the school’s superintendent, said after reviewing their policies, the school should have handled the situation differently.
Riddhi Sandil, a psychologist and lecturer at Teachers College, Columbia University, told Yahoo Style regarding the subject of young people and gender expression, “Now with changing times we pride children and adolescents on being individuals and demonstrate their individuality. Sometimes dress codes can oppress that. It’s a very complex issue. It’s a mixed message to the child to say be creative and be yourself, but only within these certain constraints and restrictions.”
“It’s exciting,” says Washington, D.C.-based psychologist Jill Weber, Ph.D., who specializes in gender and culture. “Twenty years ago, it might have been shameful for the student and now it’s a cause to rally around. It does fit with this generation. They’re more interested in being individuals than fitting in. It’s what a lot of friendships and bonding is based on today. There’s power in saying ‘we can do something actively about this’ and ‘we don’t have to take this.’ It used to be risky to put yourself out there like that. It’s definitely a culture shift. Differences are sexy and appealing to these students more so than they were to older generations.”
School dress codes are often no match for students who do not approve. If this story demonstrates anything it is that, regardless of age, there is strength in numbers when it comes to the righting of wrongs.