Graduating Class Will Wear Gender Neutral Gowns


new grad gownWhen the members of the Senior Class assemble on Turco Field on June 5, the sea of excited graduates will look significantly more uniform. This year, the traditionally gender specific gowns—blue for males, white for females—will be replaced by one gown for all students to wear, a blue gown with white trim.

English Department Head Lauren Culliton and science teacher Dan Mullaney spearheaded the change as advisors for the senior class, as they have experienced difficulties with the company that supplies the gowns. “One of the concerns we had with two different colored gowns was the possibility of the wrong color gown being sent for a particular student,” said Mullaney. “The company would charge us shipping charges which I would then have to dispute every time.”

After guidance counselor Jennifer Dolan spoke about gender identity at a faculty meeting, Culliton and Mullaney met with Principal Stephen Imbusch to discuss how gender-divisive graduation gowns may affect students. They then decided to introduce a uniform blue gown.

“It’s a step in the right direction in terms of acknowledging we have had students in the past who have gender identity concerns with regard to blue gowns for boys and white for girls,” said Mullaney, “I think most people would choose to be inclusive rather than exclusive.”

Culliton said, “High school is hard enough for many reasons…and there will probably be a day when we get a student who does not want to wear a gender-specific gown.  Let’s make a change before that day.”

Some seniors have expressed disapproval that the gown colors were changed. “I’m disappointed because I think the white looks nicer than blue,” said senior Nicole Marvas, “Plus I think it looks nice with the different white and blue gowns.”

This year’s blue gowns were $3.00 more than usual, which totals to about $500 more than last year’s purchase. However, this increase in price does not significantly affect the seniors, as there is leftover money in the senior account each year that goes unused. In the past, this money has gone towards a senior event during the last few weeks of school, such as a beach day or a visit to the North End.

There has not been an end-of-year event in recent years, as Culliton said, “we have not had many students participate.”

Regarding the change, both Mullaney and Culliton shared statements of positivity and inclusion.

“Tolerance should be taught every day, not just on graduation day,” said Mullaney. “I’d like to think that if there is one happy person sitting among the graduates knowing they ‘fit in’ rather than feeling out of place, then the change will be worthwhile.”

Culliton also hopes the change in gown color will be a “non-issue.” Culliton said, “I look at the world around us and see so much kindness and so much hatred. I choose kindness.”