Lesbians in Tuxedos: #1 Threat to Our Nation’s Schools

First of all, Jade Goodwin-Carter, if you’re the girl who asked me on formspring if you should wear a tuxedo to prom and I said YES, I apologize for underestimating the ire school officials feel towards women donning menswear at major school dances. Everyone knows that wearing a tuxedo to a school dance is the number one cause of scabies and I clearly forgot that while thinking about how cute girls look in menswear.

Anyhow, Jade Goodwin-Carter is a lesbian and attends St.Francis Catholic Preparatory School in Sacramento, California and she was told by school administrators that she wouldn’t be allowed to wear a tuxedo to her school’s Senior Ball.

Goodwin-Carter told News10 Sarcamento: “I was appalled, I didn’t even think it would be a topic of discussion. I didn’t think there needed to be a decision to make.”

Apparently Goodwin-Carter needed to “reason with administrators” to be sure they knew that her desire to wear a tuxedo was unrelated to her desire to make out with cute girls. She specified: “I’m wearing it because I feel it’s empowering to women everywhere, not as a statement.”

But the school flipped out, which Goodwin-Carter says came out of fear that she’d appear “too manly” or “as if I was going as a man.”

shane is so over your outdated ideas of gender, st. francis

Obviously in this day and age of facebook petitions and riotious children, this decision wasn’t going to fly. A Facebook group was started and instantly gained steam, while furthermore “students and even some teachers and parents expressed their dismay with the decision.” Goodwin-Carter affirms that her supporters ranged from alumni to family members to her friend’s family members and she actually couldn’t find one single person to come out and say “I agree with this decision.”

Within a few days, St. Francis School Administrators let Jade know that they changed their minds and she is free to don the formal attire of her choosing.

School president Marion Bishop was clear that the decision had nothing to do with Jade’s sexual orientation:

“I don’t want to point a finger at anybody, but perhaps it wasn’t well thought out… She gave us her reasons for wanting to wear a tux and they seemed very legitimate. We were fine with that so we reversed our decision.”

Jade Goodwin-Carter isn’t convinced that the reaction was unrelated to sexual orientation:

“I think they didn’t want to perpetuate the idea of someone being a lesbian. They didn’t want to create controversy within the student body, people going to ball or the parents of people going to ball… I do think there’s a consequence. (Their first decision) sent out a message of we don’t accept women who look like lesbians to come into the ball.”

High schools historically have a record of caring way too much about what people wear to prom and who people bring to prom and not everybody goes to McKinley High. You probably remember the Constance McMillen story from last year, or maybe just the gallery we put together of your  lesbian prom photos, which is probably the greatest thing we’ve ever done.

Congratulations Jade, you’re gonna look positively dapper. Additional inspiration is at your disposal.

Gwyn & Michele. Pennsylvania. senior prom 1993 (from our Lesbian Prom Gallery)

Riese is the 37-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker, low-key Jewish power lesbian and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2697 articles for us.

70 Comments

  1. I’m always baffled by how worked up high schools get about prom. In my high school, the administration just didn’t care. It existed in a state of perpetual apathy towards studentwear as long as no one was wearing racial slurs. Then again, I went to high school in southern California, so that probably accounts for it.

    Anyway, good for Jade! It’s depressing that this is an ongoing trend, but hopefully the wins we do get have some kind of effect, even if it’s just to convince the administration that fighting isn’t worth it. Also I now want to wear a tux so badly. I knew I should have brought my suits with my to college. 🙁

  2. At the first (Catholic all-girl) high school I went to, the same-sex date ban was enforced to the point that a set of girl twins weren’t allowed to attend prom on the same set of tickets.

    (The second Catholic all-girl high school I attended gave less than a damn when I brought a female friend, and said that girls had brought their girlfriends in the past and nobody minded.)

  3. SERIOUSLY? Obviously this school district is fully funded, has NO crime or drug problems and floats in an utopian dome of perfectness where THIS – what a student wears to prom – is their biggest issue!! I wish the whole world floated in that utopian dome where what others are wearing was our ONLY issue!!

    UGHH! Good for Jade for fighting and I’m glad she gets to wear what she wants!! Stupid school…tuxes are for EVERYONE! 🙂

    • This is a Catholic school, not a pubicly funded school district. To be fair, they probably also have some sort of rule about how short girls’ prom dresses may be and — that would be well within their rights. The school administrators changed their mind and let her wear the tux, despite being a Catholic school. Honestly, I think the administrators should be praised for reconsidering their knee-jerk reaction and letting her wear what she wanted.

  4. Good for her! She should be able to wear what she feels most comfortable in, especially when that means more cute lesbians are going to prom in tuxedos.
    Speaking of prom I have a major bone to pick with dress designers. Most of the usual retail chains (from Ross to JC Penney to Macy’s and things like that, the usual ones you’d find in everymall) had two options: rediculously expensive floor length dresses, or crotch length dresses. Umm… We had a dress code and our dresses had to be knee length, and not low cut in the front, back, or sides. These were dresses marketed for PROM. Fifteen to eighteen year olds. I’m having issues vocalizing exactly what made me rage while shopping with friends (I found my dress at a thrift store) but I think it had something to do with the hypersexualization of teenage girls and the assumption that prom dresses had to be sexy in some fashion. Like, if they were actually at a length where we wouldn’t flash ass if we bent down to grab something they were backless or super low cut in the front. Do I have to be sexy all the time? Is that what formal wear for teenagers boils down to? Girls who wear dresses must wear something sexy? Can’t I just wear something that makes me feel confident, and makes me look GOOD? Or does the industry assume that my entire self worth is a numerical scale based upon the number of guys who want to do me at any one time?

    • In an America where Sex sells, and Only sex sells, we have come to be nothing but skin and bones to be drooled upon by guys. Never mind that some of us are GIant HOMOs lol. Frustrating

  5. Each time I hear one of these stories, I get a little confused. Do you have to get approval of what you are going to wear before you go to prom or other such events at schools? When I went to prom, you basically just showed up in what you wanted. As long as you weren’t revealing too much then nobody said anything. Although I did go to a widely accepting school, so maybe I just lucked out.

    • I went to formal dances at two high schools. One was in Southern California and the other was in South Dakota. At both people just showed up wearing whatever so I don’t understand this either.

      Maybe because it’s a private school it’s different???

      • I went to a private school and they didn’t care. Though we didn’t have formal dances, we had formal dinners, cause dancing is a sin (or something, I forget the reasoning).

    • Well, people (I’m gonna venture a generalization and say probably mostly girls) do like to talk about what they’re going to wear to prom, and I could see it getting around school pretty quickly if an out lesbian showed off her fancy new tux to her friends. This would of course eventually land in the ears of the administrators and entail the inevitable knee-jerk reaction.

  6. News stories like this always surprise me. I went to 2 different schools from aged 13 and they both had dances/proms/balls featuring both boys and girls and no one gave a damn about who dressed like what as long as everyone had a ticket. In fact one of them was an all girls school so encouraged “girls without dates” to go with one another an have fun, no gender specified dress code. This includes a very “boy crazy” girl who went in a tux because her Scottish boyfriend at the the time was going in a kilt and she thought it would be a laugh. And this was a traditional Burns Night knees up.

  7. I went to St. Francis, and the administration is very very scared of anything being/appearing gay because it’s an all-girls school/catholic. my sophomore year (i think?) they finally let girls go to formal dances without a man-date. this was only because some girls wanted to go together and the administration was like NO WAY. another time a girl shaved her head, and then they made a rule against “extreme hairstyles” which i believe was meant to stop anyone from getting a hot lesbian haircut.

    • same thing happened at my school. All through yr 9 I rocked out with pink, purple, blue, red hair and mohawks and then suddenly the school rules changed to no extreme hairstyles or unnatural hair colours. At a state school in Sydney, Australia (this being like 5 years ago)!

      But then they also gave girls uniform slips for not double rolling their socks (and didn’t have to tell them until they applied for a leadership position and were denied). What is with the power tripping teachers??

  8. This confuses me as well.
    I’m wearing a tux to grad (we don’t call it prom here because prom doesn’t even make sense)
    As far as I know I’m still allowed to come (?) wtf is this crap ?

  9. My ex-flatmate went to St. Francis (and is very Catholic and feminine) and while we were living together I dated a girl who wears a tie & a dress shirt almost every day. Needless to say we aren’t flatmates anymore 🙂

  10. So, I don’t wear dresses. But I don’t really want to wear a tux or a tie or anything, and I always have severe issues getting “dressed up”. Like, if I’m going to something for work I can rock some dress pants anf feel comfortabl…but it’s not acceptable if I’m trying to be hip. Bleh.

    • I have the same dilemma anytime I need to dress up. I don’t wear dresses, but I don’t want to wear a man’s suit either. It’s an issue that continually pops up so I’ve realized I need to figure out what my go-go compromise needs to be.

      I dealt with it specifically last week for the Kentucky Derby with my office. I ended up wearing a skirt. I wore a skirt, a tee, a cardigan and flip-flops. A skirt wouldn’t have been my first choice as I’m really a pants wearer, but it wasn’t bad. I think I was moreso scared because I had no clue what I was doing. I probably won’t wear a skirt again until I absolutely have to. But it’s good I now have an option. I skipped a previous office outing because of this issue and I decided to stop skipping stuff I wanted to go to.

      Now, if it’s a formal affair — black ties and full-on dresses required — I don’t know what I will do. Stay home, maybe. Props to the girls rocking the tux — I couldn’t do it.

      • I’ve definitely skipped formal events that I otherwise would have attended because I didn’t know what to wear. I know it’s silly, but I get severe anxiety about it.

        I guess it’s getting a bit better since I’ve gotten older. I can wear more business-type stuff which I’m fine with. I’ve had more of an issue with the stereo-typical college “formals” where I’d feel out of place wearing girly dress pants.

      • there were a few girls at my school who wore nice tops and dress pants. I don’t even think they were gay, it’s just what they wanted to wear. But then again one guy came in a banana suit so i think you can just wear whatever you want really (maybe only to Australian formals/proms -who knows?)

    • When I went to prom with my girlfriend in high school she had this same problem, but I’d say solved it quite well (by which I mean she looked damn fine!). She ended up going with a feminine sort of suit, much like what Bette wears occasionally. Loose, flowy, black dress pants, a shoulderless white button up shirt, her dad’s cummerbund, and something that wasn’t a tie or a bowtie. Also heels.

  11. “She gave us her reasons for wanting to wear a tux and they seemed very legitimate. We were fine with that so we reversed our decision.”

    so it’s only ok because she has “reasons?” no one needs reasons to wear a dress…

  12. I wish people cared this deeply about shit that *actually* damages society. I mean, my highschool was all up in everyone’s business about what was appropriate for girls (it’s mostly the girls they like to police) to wear to dances, but the administration never said a single word about the meth, teen pregnancy, and dropout epidemics that were going on at that school.

  13. AAH. This is so relevant to my interests. My senior prom is on Saturday and I’m wearing a tux!

    I’m also remarkably surprised: my school is, if you will excuse me, fucking ridiculously small (200 kids.) Although I haven’t told any of the administration about my decision yet (because I see no reason to; nobody else has to ask) I’m fairly sure I won’t be challenged.

    If I’m challenged, I’ll raise hell, and look fabulous while doing so.

  14. I am planning to wear a tux or suit to prom (when I am old enough to go) and homecoming because I hate dresses. Also, I think I would like hot. If my high school has a problem, I could care less.

  15. Thank YOU!!! the frightening part was when i heard her name 😐

    she’s black, I’m black , she hass glasses, so do I, Her name’s Jade, my… are you noticing a pattern here?

  16. I was asked by friend a few years back to go to prom with her, I am my no means feminine so naturally I was to wear a tux. I really had no issues with this but apparently everyone in her school was riled up about who this mystery dyke was. I remember coming out the limousine and you could have heard a pin drop, adding insult to injury this was in the backwoods of alabama, where people aren’t as liberal as most. We ended up having a really good night but it was indeed nerve wrecking. Much props to all of us who spit in the face of conformity, the world would cease to exist without us 🙂

  17. Apparently Goodwin-Carter needed to “reason with administrators” to be sure they knew that her desire to wear a tuxedo was unrelated to her desire to make out with cute girls. She specified: “I’m wearing it because I feel it’s empowering to women everywhere, not as a statement.”

    LOLOLOL..Yeah, How can wearing a tuxedo make you feel empowered? Girls wear dresses and men wear tux. A woman wearing a mans clothes..LOl how does that empower someone? STFU you dumb gay cunt.

    Gays don’t want equality they want special treatment and attention.

  18. this confuses me.
    i went to my grade 8 graduation in a suit in 2002 in london, ontario, canada (note: the entire town voted for harper) and nobody cared.
    america is a bizarre place.

  19. My friend was told she couldnt go to prom with her girlfriend in Canada. But.. my old principal is a coward, she went anyways and she looked lovely. Neither wore a tux though, but they sure were stunning!! Two years now they have been together 🙂

  20. (AS not logging me in for some reason)

    I totally wanted to do this. Almost got my mom to agree to it. Then she told her coworkers, who were a little appalled. Eh. The dreaded shopping day came and my mom was in such a foul mood I couldnt risk it.

  21. I think if any of the girls in the school I work in wore a tux the entire staff would just be delighted that we wouldn’t have to have the awkward (um… half your dress seems to be missing, did it rip? Do you want to borrow a sweater?) conversation.

    I don’t really get why this is a problem for anyone.

  22. I just wore a suit & tie to “work-prom”–it’s an an end-of-the-year party where everyone in the department dresses up nice and they rent a ballroom and a bad DJ, so yeah, prom–and I felt so much happier and more comfortable wearing that than the dress and heels I wore to my actual high school prom.

    On the other hand, drunk dude on the train called me a dyke on the way home. Unfortunately, people don’t always grow up after high school. :/

  23. In 2000 as a 25 year old dental student I went to the Christmas Formal with my mom and we both wore tuxes. While no one said anything to us directly you could hear the whispers and feel the stares of the administration officials and faculty. My fellow students all thought it was great and we all had a great time. It did how ever change the way I was treated by faculty. And not in a good way.

  24. Well I’m thinking maybe a style like Bette’s: dressy pants and a blouse with whatever intensity of feminity you want. As for formal, I actually brainstormed and sketched a tuxedo-dress in my notbook a few weeks ago:D. Unfortunatly, nothing like that exists-that I know of. But you never know, right?

    • I was planning on making one for my formal (what prom is called in Australia). I thought it was really but I have seen one in fact New York Couture has one. Go go look at photos for inspiration or to drool over! Goodluck!

  25. My senior prom was yesterday. I went there in a tux and stole a guys date for a dance. I tried my hardest to woo a straight girl with ghetto dance moves. I jumped around in a bow tie. I got people to do the sprinkler and the macarena. It was definitely a good time. Even though I was nervous at first. By the time it was over, I didn’t want it to end.

  26. I really feel sorry for young girl/guys who are being affected by all this. At least this girl is aware of who she is and what she wants. I remember my prom and cannot imagine not being allowed to go with the person I actually wanted to. Actually reminds me of the Creature song “Prom Prom” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GriIWPJneQ Glad to see the school allowed this young girl to be who she is!

  27. Everyone reading this should be appalled. For anyone who supports equality of all kinds, PLEASE do yourself a favor and watch this amazing new video by an upcoming band, with the lyrics discussing the difficulties of this exact situation. Please spread this to anyone you know who struggles with this disease they call inequality…

    CREATURE – “Prom Prom”

Contribute to the conversation...

You must be logged in to post a comment.