It Takes A Village

A Nashville High School Student Was Banned From Prom for Wearing a Suit

*Photo credit: B Hayes via Instagram

Prom is a right of passage for many teenagers, one that 18-year-old Nashville Christian School senior B Hayes (they/he) expected to do. That is, until their school denied them entry into their prom for wearing a suit. 

On Sunday, Hayes says that they went to attend their prom and was denied entry for wearing a suit. Hayes took to Instagram to make a post about it, with a picture of them holding a sign that read, “they wouldn’t let me in because i’m in a suit.”

Hayes’ caption for the post stated, “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?”

The post went viral , with over 22,000 likes and over 1,800 comments, catching the attention of local organizations, including LGBTQ+ non-profit Protect Trans Health Tennessee, who commented, “We’re proud of you, B! You deserve to celebrate with your friends in the clothes that feel most comfortable to you. Thank you for speaking out!”

The post also caught the eye of country superstar Maren Morris. The singer-songwriter recently made headlines by performing at the Love Rising benefit concert in Nashville protesting anti-LGBTQ+ and daring the police to arrest her after introducing her 2-year-old son to drag queens. Morris commented on Haye’s post with, “I love wearing suits and you look amazing. What is your school gonna do come graduation day when the boys have to wear cap and GOWNS?”  

According to Nashville Christian School, their policies around “proper attire” would extend to graduation at the school as well. In a statement for NPR, Nashville Christian School wrote that it “has established dress requirements for daily school attendance and at our special events. All students and families are aware of and sign an agreement to these guidelines when they enroll.”

The institution added that “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.”

Regardless of what the institution has set, Hayes’ post and story has gone viral over social media. The post has over 22,000 likes and caught the attention of numerous LGBTQ+ folk and supporters, including Nashville business owner and local mom Marcie Allen Van Mol. She saw Hayes’ post and reached out to see if they could host a prom for Hayes and 25 of their friends at AB Hillsboro Village, a live music and event space in Nashville that they own. 

“When we saw this we felt that it was really important to step up and use our platform to create a safe place for B to celebrate their prom,” said Van Mol. 

Once she was given approval from Hayes, Van Mol took to social media for support for the event and was met with plenty. 

“My inbox exploded, I mean, just exploded,” said Van Mol. “Everyone wants to help. And everyone wants to make sure that these students and children in Nashville feel safe and included.”

Different local businesses offered to provide services for the event, including flowers, a photo booth, and live music. Also, a GoFundMe account was created by Nashville’s Apple & Oak owner, Allison Holley, to fund Hayes’ second prom. Additional funds will be donated to two charities of Hayes’ choosing, Inclusion Tennessee and Oasis Center

This incident comes at a time where 469 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced across the United States. Tennessee’s Governor Bill Lee, famously signed into effect one of the first anti-drag bills within this cohort of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, but the bill was temporarily blocked by a federal judge for being too “vague and broad”. 

While these bills continue to be presented, artists like Morris, Hozier, Alabama Shake’s Brittany Howard, Paramore’s Hayley Williams and more banded together to host a benefit concert called Love Rising in opposition of these heinous bills and to raise funds for local LGBTQ+ nonprofits. Additionally, other artists, like Lizzo, are using their tour stops in Tennessee to protest anti-LGBTQ+ legislation with on-stage performances alongside drag entertainers.  

With Hayes’ prom coming up next month, they simply want to enjoy their remaining time as a high school student. 

“I greatly appreciate the support from my city and my community. The love I have been shown by my friends and family will not be taken lightly. I just ask that during this time I have the privacy to enjoy the rest of my senior year.” 

But they recognize that if this is happening to them, then the rest of the world should turn their attention to what’s happening to other LGBTQ+ people as well.

“I would also like for this attention to shift towards those who have experienced similar situation’s, you are not alone and there are people in this world who will stand with you,” said Hayes. “I want to spread positivity and help others grow through this process. Thank you all so much for the love you show me!”

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