In “a step toward unity,” a New Jersey high school will do away with a 50-year-old tradition of different colored graduation caps and gowns for boys and girls, opting instead for a single color for everyone.
According to NorthJersey.com, Glen Rock High School principal John Arlotta said “times have changed in terms of gender equity,” and that the move is “an effort to meet changing gender dynamics, particularly to be inclusive of those whose identity is more fluid, and for whom a color-coordinated identifier would prove complicated, if not offensive.”
Arlotta said different colors for boys and girls is “antiquated,” adding that he was informed by Jostens, a company that provides caps and gowns for schools, that Glen Rock was “one of the last” schools to move to monochrome graduation apparel.
However, the change is not without controversy. Many parents called the Arlotta to bemoan the loss of a tradition, he said.“Someone said it’s been that way since 1959. My answer is that it’s not 1959 anymore,” Arlotta said.
A student, senior Christine Nappi, wrote an editorial for the school newspaper on Wednesday that was shared on social media among local parents.
Nappi lamented that it was the boys’ color that the female students would be forced to wear, calling the change in favor of red “a slap in the face.”
“The girls now have to conform to men once again, which is something I thought our society was past,” she wrote.
Her suggestion was that students be allowed to pick their own color, while Nappi’s mother, Susan offered that the gowns be black, the third hue in the trifecta of the school’s official colors.
Nappi noted in an email to NorthJersey.com and The Record that she and her family “are fully in support of the LGBTQ+ community,” adding that she believes “Glen Rock High School has always been an accepting community. This is simply just a tradition that I and my fellow classmates were looking forward to.”