Saturday, June 11, 2005

Sharp dressed man

D.E.D. always finds the best stuff and today is no different. She's posted an update about those great kids in Howell, Michigan who responded to some Phelpsian anti-gay vandalism on the school rock by painting over it and then spray painting "love" over a bunch of school property. In punishment for their own (well intentioned) vandalism, the three kids received a 10-day school suspension, paid to clean up their graffiti (they offered to pay for it when they confessed) & barred from participating in their HS graduation. In my opinion the outcome was well worth it, makes a bigger difference in the world, and will provide them with a much cooler HS graduation story than just about anyone else has to tell.

Unfortunately, D.E.D. also includes a link to a WaPo story about 17-year old Thomas Benya who was denied his diploma for failing to follow school dress-code policy during the graduation ceremony (actually, during a dress dress rehearsal last Tuesday).
In March, Benya's high school sent a letter to parents and seniors explaining that "adherence to the dress code is mandatory," with the word mandatory in bold and underlined. For girls: white dresses or skirts with white blouses. For boys: dark dress pants with white dress shirts and ties.
Benya's offense? He wore a black bolo with a silver and onyx clasp the size of a silver dollar as an homage to his Cherokee heritage. Benya's school does not consider a bolo tie to be a tie.
"We have many students with many different cultural heritages, and there are many times to display that," said school district spokeswoman Katie O'Malley-Simpson.

"But graduation is a time when we have a formal, uniform celebration. If kids are going to participate, they need to respect the rules."
Now, I'm no fan of the bolo but if you look at the picture in the article, the kid looks good and there's nothing outrageous, distracting or disruptive about his appearance. Boys who were allowed to participate in the graduation ceremony because they did dress in accordance to the dress code, the one that was set "to make sure all our ceremonies are formal and respectful", wore bright orange, red or striped ties, which are obviously less distracting/dispruptive especially when worn with a purple cap and gown than say, a bolo tie.

It's one thing to be a complete and utter asshole by not letting this kid particpate in his HS graduation because his tie was "too skinny", it's a whole other thing to deny him his diploma which is his proof that he did fulfill the requirements of high school under Maryland state law. Instead of requiring Benya to schedule a conference with school administrators in order to obtain his diploma, the school administrators who ordered this decision should be scheduling a meeting on Benya's terms in order to apologize for their ignorance and present Benya with not only his diploma but with a graduation present like a small scholarship as a way to apologize.

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