dress code

By Banning Freshman From Wearing Pink, Is This Principal Preemptively Fighting Bullying? Or Overreacting?

Massachusetts’ Whitman Hanson Regional High School, about 25 miles south of Boston and home to 1,250 students, has banned the custom of freshman wearing pink shirts at the annual Thanksgiving football game — where seniors wear black, juniors red, sophomores white — because, according to new Principal Jeffrey Szymaniak, the color encourages excessive teasing. Instead, he wants all students wearing Whitman Hanson’s school colors (red and black). Okay, but can they read “marriage is so gay”?

Is this a fair attempt to crack down on bullying, especially of the anti-gay variety? Or a silly crackdown on a school tradition? (Students who show up wearing pink won’t be allowed at the pep rally.) It’s an interesting departure from Coy Shepard’s football coach trying to keep him from choosing to wear pink.

Szymaniak says he hasn’t received any complaints from students about bullying, but sees this as a proactive approach to killing a problem before it starts. Which sounds reasonable! And while my first instinct is to say “Students should be able to wear whatever colors they want,” I can’t help but think of the closeted gay boy — or the one who is still coming to terms with his sexuality — who just entered high school and is trying his damnedest not to “set off red flags” and is then faced with the decision to fall in line and wear pink (thus subjecting himself to upperclassmen teasing him), or pretend he’s too macho for the girl color (and draw attention to himself for not going along with the crowd).

Of course if you want to fight bullying with fashion choices, you should call up Sabrina Schlichting and put on one of her blue tees.