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Quakertown School District will consider change to gender-neutral graduation gowns

Quakertown gay, lesbian and transgender students are calling for single-color graduation gowns. Currently, girls wear white and boys are in blue.

Students from the high school’s Gay-Straight Alliance told school board members last week that a policy change would benefit transgender students who are assigned a color that doesn’t match their gender identity. They said the gender-neutral gowns would save the district money, create a look of “unity and equality,” and would improve the district’s image, which was marred in 2017 because of a racist incident at a football game.

They said Quakertown should duplicate other districts, such as Palisades, where both genders wear black, and East Penn, where graduating seniors wear green.

Board member David Ochmanowicz thanked the students and said the district should consider going to one color. His colleague, Jennifer Weed, agreed, calling the current distinction silly. “Where I’m from, everyone always wore the same color robe.” “It seems sexist quite honestly,” she continued. “Why separate the boys from the girls with different colors?”

Treading a careful line, director Kaylyn Mitchell said the gown could include both school colors; other board members were noncommittal.
Superintendent Bill Harner recommended the issue be put on the August agenda for a public discussion.

This year’s ceremony is set for June 14 at Stabler Arena.