In an effort to avoid offending gay, lesbian and transgender kids, a Michigan school changed its colors. Grand Haven High School in Grand Haven, Michigan made the graduation cap and gown color gender neutral for the school’s LGBT students. The school announced the changes to graduating seniors on Oct. 26. An email that went out to parents the same day read: “GHHS is designing a CUSTOM Graduation Gown that ALL seniors will wear. NO LONGER will we have navy gowns and gold gowns.”
The Grand Haven Buccaneers colors are blue and gold. Traditionally, female students have worn gold graduation caps and gowns and male students have worn blue. But all that will change with the class of 2016. In this graduating class, all students will wear blue gowns with gold piping so there will be no distinction between boys and girls.
This news may be welcome to LGBT Grand Haven High School students, particularly those who crossdress, identify as a different gender, identify as genderless or who are gender fluid (fluctuating gender identity) No longer will girl students who identify as male be forced to wear “female profiling” gold cap and gown. Genderless and gender fluid students won’t have to wear gender specific gowns. Having everyone wear blue doesn’t really address the needs of LGBT cross-dressing male students who choose to dress in female apparel, nor the transgender male to female students. But the school didn’t want to change its blue and gold colors entirely, so by dropping the gold gowns in favor of everyone in gender neutral blue at least retained one school color.
But not all Grand Haven High School populations are loving the gender neutral graduation gowns. Some heterosexual students at Grand Haven High School, especially girls, liked wearing the contrasting gold gowns. And not every LGBT student wants to see the decades-old tradition broken going gender neutral. Some students don’t want to be forced to wear a gender neutral cap and gown just to pacify a small group. Others, LGBT or straight, just don’t like being dictated to, especially when its their graduation and they or their parents who are footing the graduation bill.
Some parents like the idea and some don’t. If they only had daughters, and were planning to reuse an older sister’s gold cap and gown, they will now have to purchase blue ones. A cap and gown sells for $38 at Jostens, the graduation supplies vendor for Grand Haven High School. That doesn’t include tassels which are $13 each (graduation isn’t cheap!) Parents could save money by borrowing a blue gown and cap from friends with older boys. They might also shop secondhand stores.