A Nashville high school student who was denied entry to their senior prom for wearing a suit instead of a dress has received an outpouring of support from the local community, including a private prom hosted by a business owner.
B. Hayes, 18, who uses they/he pronouns, said they were not “allowed in the doors” of their prom at Nashville Christian School on Saturday because they were wearing a suit. Hayes posted a photo on Instagram holding a sign that read, “They wouldn’t let me in because I’m in a suit.”Embed from Getty Images
“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,” Hayes wrote in the caption. “Who are you to tell us what it means to be a woman?”
The post went viral and caught the attention of Derek and Marcie Allen Van Mol, who own AB Hillsboro Village, an event venue in Nashville. The couple called Hayes and offered to host a prom for them and up to 25 friends on May 6.
“At the end of the day it’s about doing what’s right, and B got slighted,” Derek Van Mol told CNN.
The Van Mols also enlisted the help of Allison Holley, who started a GoFundMe page to raise money for the event. The page has collected more than $29,000 as of Thursday, which will be used to pay for vendors and donate to Hayes’ charities of choice, Inclusion Tennessee and Oasis Center.
Holley said she was shocked that dress code issues like this still existed in 2023. “So of course, I was like, we’ve gotta do something about this,” she told CNN.
The event has also attracted the support of local businesses and celebrities, including RCA recording artist Tone Stith, who is booked to perform.
Hayes expressed gratitude for the community’s response in an Instagram story on Wednesday. “I am so thankful for everyone who has reached out and shown their support,” they wrote. “You all have made me feel so loved and accepted.”
A spokesperson for Nashville Christian School said in a statement that the school has established dress code requirements for both school attendance and special events, and that all students and families are aware of and sign an agreement to these guidelines when they enroll.Embed from Getty Images
The school said it communicated its expectations regarding appropriate prom attire to Hayes and their 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,” the statement said.Embed from Getty Images