Student banned from senior prom for wearing a suit instead of a dress

The American Civil Liberties Union reports that across the U.S., there are 469 bills that target the rights of the LGBTQ community. In schools, state lawmakers are trying to prevent trans students from participating in school activities, and are censoring conversations of LGBTQ people and issues.

On the weekend of April 22, 2023, B Hayes was refused entry at their prom for expressing their individuality.

Watching as his classmates entered the Loveless Barn where senior prom was held, a Nashville Christian School student stood in the parking lot, holding a sign that read, “They wouldn’t let me in because I’m in a suit.”

B Hayes, who identifies as nonbinary and uses the pronouns they/he, was banned from taking part in the high school prom–a rite of passage for seniors–for wearing a black suit, instead of a dress.

An Instagram post from April 23 shows a photo of Hayes holding the sign, with students entering the function behind where they stood. The 18-year-old student captioned the photo, “my name is B Hayes. im 18 years old and i’ve been attending Nashville Christian School for 13 years. my senior prom was today and i wasn’t allowed in the doors because i was wearing a suit. i should not have to conform to femininity to attend my senior prom. i will not compromise who i am to fit in a box. who are you to tell us what it means to be a woman?”

Nashville Christian School, a coed private institution, writes in its online handbook, “Identity–God created us as male or female, and we will live consistently with the gender God chose for us.”

Specific to events, it reads, “all students should choose Banquet attire that is appropriate for modesty and consistent with the Biblical principles… Students who do not adhere to these expectations may be asked to leave the event.”

On page 29 of the handbook, it is also written, “Modesty and Sexual Morality – All students should practice the highest standards of modesty and sexual morality. Nashville Christian School supports Biblical principles of purity including but not limited to abstinence before marriage and refraining from homosexual behaviors.”

Responding to the hordes of requests from media, the school delivered a statement saying it has “established dress requirements for daily school attendance and at our special events. All students and families are aware of and sign an agreement to these guidelines when they enroll.” The statement continued, “While we certainly respect a student’s right to disagree, all of our students know from our school handbook that when they do not follow such expectations at school-sponsored events, they may be asked to leave.”

Yahoo! News reports that when requested, Nashville Christian School failed to provide a copy of the agreement, signed by students and family, as well as dress code guidelines for special events, like prom.

Hayes’ post received a lot of support, resulting in public backlash aimed at the school.

One follower wrote on the post, “Jesus was literally out there doin the lords work in a dress.. make it make sense! I’m sorry they didn’t let you in but I’m proud of you for standing up.”

Hayes’ post also grabbed the attention of Nashvillians who wanted Hayes to enjoy the senior ritual of prom.

Nioshi Nio Jackson, who was the DJ at the prom, commented on Hayes’ post, “My name is Nio and I was the DJ at your prom. It was just brought to my attention you were denied entry. It breaks my heart to know you experienced this. Had I known at the beginning I would’ve done something. I’m sorry I wasn’t aware. If you have a graduation party or any celebration this year, as long as I’m not booked on that day; I’d be honored to DJ for you for free. You let me know and we’ll hook it up. You have an ally in me.”

Turns out Hayes has allies all over the community.

Included in that group are Marcie Allen and husband Derek Van Mol, owners of AB Hillsboro Village, a 150-seat venue that’s popular for festivals and shows, and now to an inclusive prom for Hayes and 25 friends.

Soliciting the community for help, other small business jumped in. Allison Holley, who owns  a home goods store in Nashville, started a GoFundMe page to “throw the ultimate prom for B & 25 of their closest friends.” Holley also writes the funds raised will go to the small businesses that support B’s prom and the rest will go to B’s favorite local charities, Inclusion Tennessee and Oasis Center, both supporting rights of LGBTQ.

“It’s been amazing to see so many people share, like and comment on my post. I never imagined it would get this amount of attention.” Hayes said in an interview with Nashville Scene, which also reports that Hayes was allowed to wear a suit to prom in the past, but not this year. 

“Knowing that, not only the Nashville community is behind me, but people all over the country are supporting the issue, is incredible to see. I hope the awareness can bring about positive change and that more students in the future feel strong enough to stand up for freedom of expression.”

While we don’t like hearing about situations like what happened with B Hayes, it’s nice that something good has come from it. What an incredible community and we really appreciate people who stand up for the rights of others! We can’t wait to hear about B Hayes’ inclusive prom!