South Carolina teen Dynasia Clark looked forward to her graduation at Lamar High School in Darlington County this week. When she arrived for the ceremony, she had a rude awakening: school officials refused to let her participate. The reason: Clark wore pants to the ceremony.
Clark, who identifies as a lesbian, wore the pants to make herself feel comfortable on the momentous occasion. “I didn’t think it would be that big of a deal, because we’re already here, we’re already fixing to walk but now I can’t go because of a dress code,” Clark told ABC News local affiliate WPDE. “They already know how I am, so, they already know I’m not going to wear a dress. So I didn’t think they would be like you can’t walk because they already know me.”
“I was angry more than anything because we worked hard to even have a graduation and then I can’t walk because I don’t got on a dress,” she added.
Lamar High had an established dress code for women, requiring them to wear a dress for the ceremony. To Clark, however, feeling comfortable at the graduation seemed more important, and since prominent women wear pants to formal occasions all the time in the 21st century, she didn’t see the harm. Furthermore, Clark’s choice of dress would be hidden beneath a graduation robe for the entirety of the ceremony.
When school officials refused to let Clark participate in her graduation, she opted to watch from outside the field to hear her name called. That recognition would offer catharsis and conclusion to her high school experience. Instead, school officials removed her from the graduation roster.
“That was the part that made me more mad than anything because I was there you could have least called my name,” Clark says. “It seems crazy to me. It seems stupid, like petty because it was just an outfit to me.”
When pressed about the incident, Lamar High School officials issued a statement: “The Lamar High School dress code for graduation has been in place for more than 20 years. We welcome students or parents who have concerns with any policy or procedure to meet with administration and discuss those concerns. In the past, when a student raised concern with the administration about the dress code prior to graduation day, the issue was addressed.”
Still, for Dynasia Clark, the incident ends her high school career on a sour note. “It shouldn’t have stopped me from doing something what I have been waiting on for 12 years– I went to school,” she observes. “Everybody be happy for their graduation day and I couldn’t even experience that.”