High School Plans Gender-Segregated Graduation, Students Say ‘No Thank You Please’

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group of graduating studentsHumans by our nature like to sort and categorize things. Sometimes that’s a good thing, if for example you work in a library or just like having a very well-organized spice cabinet. In other cases, though, it doesn’t work so well–especially when the thing that you’re sorting and categorizing is other human beings.

Gender-segregated high school graduations have been a thing for a long time–at least since I graduated high school, back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth: boys on one side of the auditorium, girls on the other, and often with different-colored robes for each gender, too. And for precisely as long as they’ve been a thing, they’ve been a totally unnecessary thing. And now, some students and parents in Westlake, Ohio are asking for this outdated practice to go just as extinct as the stegosaurus I used to ride to school every morning.

Christie Wiedt, whose daughter Maureen is graduating from Westlake High School this year, has asked the school to end its tradition of seating graduating boys in green robes on one side of the room with graduating girls in white on the other. According to, Maureen and her classmates are uncomfortable with the practice of gender segregation, and as Wiedt mentions, one of the students is transgender–and I suspect the district’s antiquated policy would require that student to sit with the group that matches up with the gender he or she was assigned at birth, rather than his or her actual gender.

Besides the obvious problem of parents or school administrators forcing transgender students to sit on the wrong side of the aisle, there are other issues at hand with gender-segregated ceremonies. For one thing, there are also non-binary kids who may not identify as either male or female, or who may identify as both–where should they sit? For another, it’s 20-freaking-15 and kids have friends outside their own gender. If you’re going to be made to sit still and listen to Pomp and Circumstances for thirty minutes, you may as well get to do it in the proximity of your best friend who doesn’t happen to have the same gender as you.

And last and definitely least, white robes for female students really need to go away forever. My graduation robes were white, and I spent approximately the entire duration of the ceremony worrying that when I stood up to walk across the stage I’d have a little red spot on my butt. Couldn’t I have just worn a nice red robe like the guys got to do?

Happily, the Westlake school board president, Tony Falcone, plans to listen to students’ concerns about the gender-segregated ceremony. Hopefully this practice soon goes the way of the dodo, but for now I’m at least encouraged by the thoughtful, progressive students who are willing to take a stand about this issue. Looks like the kids really are all right, folks.

(Image: Ben Blankenburg / Getty)