High School Drama

Teens Dress to Defy Gender Norms

High-school students pushing dress-code norms at their schools are raising questions of gender identity—think boys with long hair and lip gloss, and girls in baggier-than-normal jeans or suits. “This generation is really challenging the gender norms we grew up with,” said one psychologist. “A lot of youths say they won’t be bound by boys having to wear this or girls wearing that. For them, gender is a creative playing field.” The most famous example of the new dress-code conflict was an openly gay Mississippi teen girl whose graduation photo was taken out of the yearbook after she posed in a tuxedo. Other schools have had a mixed response to the recent shift in gender expression: Some are accepting (one gay male student was elected prom queen in California), some send students home to change requiring them to dress “in keeping with their gender,” and others claim it’s difficult to protect teens from harassment.