I grew up in predominantly conservative religious community in middle and high school. Homeroom classes were separated by gender. Girls wore white headscarves in school with large, navy blue polyester jilbabs covering their clothes.
You couldn't be caught joking around or flirting with any members of the opposite sex in school. So this meant that prom was totally out of the question.
Because I didn't have that whole high school prom experience, I found it really easy to identify with older North Jerseyans who attended Catholic school growing up. They had school proms and dances, but they were closely monitored by hard-nosed nuns and would begin and end the night with two different-gendered lines of students staring at each other awkwardly from across a gymnasium.
While I'd be surprised to find any private Islamic schools in America throwing a mixed-gender prom for their students, Catholic schools have definitely come a long way, especially in my area. Which is probably why people are so surprised to learn that a Dearborn, Michigan high school planned to force female students to wear "modesty ponchos" if their prom dresses violated the dress code.
Divine Child High School put up an example of some of the ponchos that girls would be expected to wear should their clothes be deemed too salacious for a school dance. A note accompanied the pieces of fabric.
"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 :)"
The school's Theology teacher Pat O'Malley, came up with the idea, stating that the poncho and note was intended as a "deterrent" and "lighthearted" attempt at reminding students to "focus on the inner beauty and not draw attention to something that doesn't need attention drawn to it."
In Dearborn, Michigan, a Catholic high school has a “modesty poncho” for female students to wear at their dance if their dress is too revealing of their bodies. “We are trying focus on the inner beauty” of the girls, said the school’s theology teacher https://t.co/Hrhh6NtpLk— Niraj Warikoo (@nwarikoo) May 1, 2018
What people are finding interesting about the story is that the city of Dearborn, Michigan is about 40% Muslim. There have been false reports conjured-up by God-knows-who that "Sharia Law" has been implemented in sections of the city, a claim that some are now finding ironic.
You know, because Divine HS is a Catholic school and all.
Some are pointing out that even stringently religious populations, like an all-girls prom that's attended by pretty much all Muslim women, don't have any modesty requirements.
In the neighboring city of Hamtramck, which also has a sizable Muslim population, female Muslim students in a high school started a girls-only prom as an option a few years ago, but it doesn’t have any modesty requirements.— Niraj Warikoo (@nwarikoo) May 1, 2018
Because people have been telling women how to act and what to wear for what seems like forever, it comes as no surprise that there were lots of different opinions on the "modesty ponchos."
Some Twitter users saw nothing wrong with it and chalked it up to being part of just going to Catholic school.
I went 12 years to Catholics school. Those are the rules. You don’t want to wear a “modesty poncho” then wear an appropriate dress. There are many beautiful dresses without exposing all you have to offer— Laura (@lfencyk) May 1, 2018
Private schools, like Catholic schools, do not use public funds and parent pay to send their kids their by choice, many for disipline. Which is why they can do whatever they want. It's up to the school and parents. Now, if it was a public school...then you'd have a case.— Possum (@Ladypossum) May 1, 2018
Others pointed out that the modesty poncho was a form of body-shaming for some girls.
There were also a lot of people who were just baffled that a "modesty poncho" was something that would ever be conceived in the first place.
Divine HS eventually said they would review the policy.
That consideration period didn't last too long, however, and Divine HS decided to scrap the idea altogether.
Anyone think "modesty ponchos" are a ridiculous idea? Or is it ridiculous to think that teens should be allowed to wear whatever they want to prom? (h/t abc news)