Should red be worn at graduation?

April 26, 2018

Two writers for The Glen Echo tackle the controversial question

Why it’s ok that we’re wearing red at graduation

I am a cisgender female. I identify as female. I’m okay with wearing a red cap and gown to graduation if I know it makes people feel comfortable and feel free to be themselves at graduation. While technically white is one of the school colors, I believe it is fair to say it is not the most dominant. Wearing red not only unifies the grade, but it is the color that makes the most sense out of the two.

Traditions are a large part of many high schools and I fully respect that. However, Glen Rock has had the same tradition of girls wearing white while the boys wear red in place since 1959. The average cost of a new house that year was around $13,000. Alaska and Hawaii became states. Mattel released Barbie dolls for the first time. It is clear times were different. Times change, trends change, people change. That’s expected. Some traditions are meant to last forever while others are not. Gender fluidity was not a known about or talked about topic when this tradition first formed. Since 1959, people have become more comfortable with being themselves. Telling them they have to wear a certain color is not right. While I agree this was not handled perfectly by administrators, I respect the decision. If we were given the choice between white and red, girls would still be pressured by their peers to choose white while boys would still be expected to choose red. Many are focusing on a small aspect of graduation when in the grand scheme of things in life, it is an extremely minuscule detail. In our future, the color we wore at graduation will not affect the majority of people. Instead, It would affect gender fluid and/or transgender students who cannot feel comfortable at such an important milestone in their life.

On graduation day, my mother will probably cry. This is not going to be because she’s upset she won’t be able to see me walk in a white robe like past generations at GRHS have. It will be because she’s proud of me for graduating high school, an opportunity plenty of people of all genders around the world will not get the opportunity to do.

GRHS students, I encourage you to take a step back for a moment and realize the gravity (or lack of gravity) of this situation. Wearing red robes to graduation does not put us in any danger, it doesn’t harm us, and it won’t affect our lives in any way besides maybe the fact we think our graduation photos will look better in white as opposed to red. Administration has made the decision for us to all wear red. These are the cards we have been dealt. Because of this, let’s make the most of our graduation day, as a united class. Let’s focus on all the great times we have had in high school. I know come graduation day, every person of every gender will look amazing in our robes, no matter what color.

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Why I want to wear white at my graduation

At graduation this June, the tradition of boys wearing red and girls wearing white will be broken, for all students will be wearing a red cap and gown.

Girls wearing white has been a tradition ever since the first class graduating class of 1959, and many students are enraged that it’s changing.

There are many reasons that the administration has decided to do this. For one, the singular color is more gender neutral and will eliminate discrepancies of separating colors based off of gender.

But, when did wearing red or white define who we are?

The original tradition of wearing a color based off your gender is flawed, but making all students wear one color is not the solution to this. I applaud the school in their attempt to create a more accepting community, but this isn’t the approach that should be taken. Students should be able to wear the color they want regardless of their gender.

If a student associates themselves with the opposite gender, they should be able to wear either color accordingly. Even if a student doesn’t associate with a certain gender, they should be able to wear the color they desire. If a guy wants to wear white at graduation he should be able to, and if a girl wants to wear red, then allow it. But if I want to follow the tradition and wear white at my one and only high school graduation, I should be able to. I have seen class after class receive diplomas in the elegant, white cap and gowns, and I have been looking forward to it. But now my chances of ever getting to do that are gone.

In a sense, it’s ironic that we all have to conform and wear the same color. Another reason why the administration has decided to do this is so the senior class is “united.” But how does wearing the same color unite us in any way? It merely creates a facade that we are united. By this statement, I’m not saying that the senior class is divided. We are already united, but at the same time we are all unique, different and diverse, and that is what I love about the school.

Throughout our education in Glen Rock, we have been taught that diversity is a good thing, and it helps us learn. Most importantly, our differences make us who we are. The red and white gowns demonstrate that we are a unique community, and we should not be discouraged from being ourselves by wanting to wear a certain color.

With all our differences, we have learned to accept each other for who we are, and that’s what makes us united- not some silly color.

I understand that red is one of our school colors, but so is white. Not to exaggerate, but having the girls conform to wearing the color the guys would previously wear feels like a slap in the face. The girls now have to conform to men once again, which is something I thought our society was past. All throughout history and up to today, women have had to fight for their rights. Like many women, I have been taught to be independent and stand up for myself, and wearing red defeats that. In a way, having to wear red is demeaning to us girls because we feel as if we are being told to conform to the more “dominant” species. This not only contradicts the lessons that need to be taught for girls to be strong and independent, but it weakens our self-esteem. I understand this argument is more extreme than the rest because red is simply a school color, but it prompts me further to fight for my right to wear white.

I also already paid for my senior portrait in a white cap and gown so there goes that.

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