School to hand out 'Modesty Ponchos' for teens dressed inappropriately for prom
DEARBORN, Mich. (WJBK) - WEB UPDATE: After receiving backlash, Dearborn Divine Child has changed course, saying it will not have the so-called modesty ponchos at prom.
Divine Child High School said in a letter to parents, dated May 1, that the ponchos will not be handed out at prom. For the most recent story detailing the change, CLICK HERE. The original story is below.
Female students at a Dearborn Catholic high school who are deemed to be dressed 'inappropriately' for prom will be handed Modesty Ponchos by the school to wear over their dresses.
Students at Divine Child High School say they're being shamed by their own administration before they even walk in the door for prom: If they're not dressed appropriately enough by the school's standards, they'll be handed Modesty Ponchos to wear over their dresses.
The ponchos are on display on mannequins inside the school. A note is attached to them that reads: "If your dress does not meet our formal dance dress requirements - no problem! We've got you covered - literally. This is our Modesty Poncho, which you'll be given at the door. :)"
An anonymous student, who didn't want to be identified out of concerns about retaliation by the school, told FOX 2 that teachers will determine whether what they're wearing is compliant or not when they walk in the door.
"I do believe the school has gone too far with this," she said. "As we walk into prom, we are to shake hands with all the teachers and if you walk through and a teacher deems your dress is inappropriate you will be given a poncho at the door."
She says that what the school is doing is a form of shaming and is concerned about voicing her opposition publicly.
"Who knows what will happen to those who try and speak out against it," she said.
The school already requires students and parents to sign off on a detailed agreement of dress guidelines for the dance next month.
The poncho is an add-on that theology teacher Mary Pat O'Malley came up with. She says the school put the ponchos on the mannequins in school to a give girls enough time to get a dress that fits their parameters.
"We are trying focus on the inner beauty and not draw attention to something that doesn't need attention drawn to it," O'Malley said. "It was really intended as a deterrent and a light hearted one at that."
Both O'Malley and the high school principal say parents have not complained. However, at least one parent agreed with the student that came forward.
"It's a method of shaming, a method of building and degrading to females and its interpretation what's modest and what isn't," the parent, who also asked to be anonymous, said.
The student who talked with FOX 2 says her classmate was disciplined for taking her complaints about the policy to social. The administration could not confirm nor deny that.
The student says she knows she's going to do if she's handed a Modesty Poncho.
"I would refuse the poncho and go to dinner somewhere else dressed up," she said.
The school's prom is set for Saturday, May 12th.
UPDATE: According to a letter sent by the school to parents, the Modesty Ponchos were never intended to be handed out, despite telling FOX 2 the opposite on Monday. Read the letter below: