School's Prom Dress Code, Pre-Approval of Gowns Spark Controversy

A Pennsylvania high school’s rules and guidelines for prom dresses have sparked controversy, with many students and parents calling the policy inconvenient, unfair and outdated. 

Officials at Delone Catholic School in Adams County outlined their dress code for men and women attending the school prom, set to take place on May 1.

“All young women and men in attendance, whether a member of the Delone Catholic student body or a guest of a Delone Catholic student, need to be dressed in gender-specific formal wear,” a school official wrote. “Students wearing inappropriate attire (as deemed by the Prom Committee and/or Administration) will not be permitted into the prom.”

Under the dress code, women’s gowns may not be “extremely short, have an extremely low cut front or back, have any excessively high cut slits, have overly revealing midriffs, or be inappropriately revealing- giving  the illusion of nudity.”

The dress code for men requires the standard tuxedo or complete suit coat, dress pants, dress shirt, tie and no shorts.

In addition to the dress code, the school is also requiring female students to bring a picture of their gown for pre-approval. 

“All young women planning to attend the Delone Catholic prom, whether a member of the Delone Catholic student body or a guest of a Delone Catholic student, will need to submit a photo of the gown that will be worn to the prom for pre-approval,” a school official wrote. “This must be done prior to purchasing prom tickets.”

Several students at the school say the timing of the new policy combined with a stricter dress code is unfair, claiming they already spent hundreds of dollars on gowns months in advance that now need alterations.

“Guidelines have not been posted for parents or students to see until the date of Friday, March 13, 2015,” a petition on says.

Simone Hostetter, the owner of Simone’s Unlimited Bridal & Day Spa in Hanover told Penn Live about 80 percent of the Delone students who bought dresses from her store had to either exchange or alter them due to the dress code.

“They spend so much time picking out the dress of their dream,” Hostetter said. “A fantasy dress if you will.”

The petition on demands that the new guidelines be eliminated.

“Many parents have purchased non-refundable prom gowns,” the petition says. “We have not been given a set of guidelines in a reasonable amount of time…Our children will not undergo scrutiny of prom gowns based on outdated, unrealistic expectations and rules implemented at such short notice.”

So far the petition has over 250 supporters.

School administrators defended the policy, saying the school has a responsibility to uphold catholic values and moral integrity. They also claimed they’ve held the dress code for over two decades.

“The principles in these guidelines have remained steadfast for the past 23 years,” school officials wrote. “The only change this year is the requirement of young women to submit photos for review by prom moderators.”

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