I completed high school this week, and throughout my home school journey one of the most prominent and important things I learned was to always stand up for truth, no matter what it costs you in the long run. This past weekend I attended the Richmond Homeschool Prom along with over 500 other home schooled students across Central Virginia. Recently, there has been a massive frenzy about a girl being kicked out over suggestive dancing and inappropriate attire, so much so that even national media sources like Cosmopolitan Magazine have picked up on the story. I am writing this not to stir up further arguments but to share truth on what actually happened at prom.
I happen to know the girl who was kicked out. She joined my volleyball team last fall, she ended up being in my American History class this semester, and she also happens to be graduating with me in just a few short weeks. In history, our class covered material from the Civil War to World War II. During the section on the Gilded Age, we learned about something called yellow journalism. Let me define it.
Yellow Journalism is the type of journalism that relies on sensationalism and lurid exaggeration to attract readers. There is a word in that definition that I would also like to define. Sensationalism is the use of sensational language to arouse an intense emotional response.
Everything that has been said about Clare and the Richmond Homeschool Prom has been yellow journalism and nothing short of sensationalizing. Her entire story is full of lies and slander. I have been to many homeschool proms and the Richmond Homeschool Prom is most definitely the least conservative one I have attended. The dress code for ladies merely required that dresses be fingertip length. I personally don’t recall seeing girls with dresses violating the requirements (which are the exact same as the local high schools). Clare even approached me and showed me that her dress adhered – yes, it was edgy and as close as she could get to breaking it, but yes it was fingertip length. She writes in her blog post,
“I assumed that she (a prom coordinator) probably just didn’t understand that when you’re 5’9″ and leggy, everything looks shorter on you then it would on anyone else, even if it’s still inside the dress code.”
I can whole-heartedly agree with that statement, as I have long legs myself and have had to refrain from wearing certain things because they appear more immodest than they would on a girl with shorter legs. It is an honest struggle. In the end, her dress was close enough to breaking the dress code that it was checked. Clare talks about how she isn’t responsible for other people’s thought or drives, but she admits in her blog post that she looked hot and would turn heads when walking through a door. Emily Collins, a lady chaperoning, states that Clare’s dress only met dress code when it was pulled down, but as she walked, the dress rose. Clare was seen by multiple sources (students) to be dancing provacatively and as she moved her dress rose. When she was approached and asked to pull it down by female chaperones, Clare responded with extreme disrespect towards the authorities, at which point she was asked to leave. Not one person ever mentioned anything about impure thoughts, she was removed from the dance because her behavior was not in line with the set rules.
I find the most disturbing part of this situation to be the accusations against the dads. The Richmond Homeschool Prom is held in a large church gym. In that gym, there is a balcony that runs the length of the room. When I walked in, I did notice that there were parents standing up there. But they were chaperoning, just the same as the parents on the floor. Yes, there were dads up there, all of whom were on rotation manning the lights and ensuring that prom ran smoothly. Clare writes,
“We were also a little grossed out by all the dads on the balcony above the dance floor, ogling and talking amongst themselves,” Headlines are saying things like, “Teen Girl Ejected From Prom Because Horny Dads Can’t Stop Staring,” or “Girl Kicked Out Of Prom Because Dads Found Her Too Sexy.”
Honestly, if I had not been at prom and Clare’s description were all I had to go on, my interpretation would be that there were fathers lined up around the balcony just to observe and eye the girls. It makes it sound totally inappropriate and disgusting! But I was there, and the dads were not talking amongst themselves about the girls dancing and they were certainly not ogling. They were only doing the jobs they had selflessly volunteered for so that the homeschool community could enjoy prom. They were up there to work the lights and fix strand of lights that had gone out. Homeschool dads are incredibly protective over their daughters and go to great lengths to ensure they are treated well and typically very loving towards children that are not their own. Homeschool dads may be just about the least creepy men there are. I would also like to briefly address the misconception that, as homeschool parents, they are required to put on prom. Prom is not a right owed to us, it is a privilege. As homeschoolers we often lose chances to participate in activities that students at public a private school enjoy, such as prom and sports teams. Our opportunity to attend prom comes directly from the parents that choose to invest their time and money so we can enjoy a special event.
But when did this become about perverted dads? The news reports manipulate the story to make it seem like sex-minded men singled Clare out and couldn’t control their thoughts when in reality, not one man made mention about Clare’s attire or behavior, only women in authority. Women use clothing and actions to attract men all the time, but as Christians and really just as moral people, ladies have a duty to dress in a way that earns respect and doesn’t tempt men. Everyone (not just men) have a duty to guard our thoughts from things that aren’t healthy, but men shouldn’t make it harder for women and women shouldn’t make it harder for men. The Richmond Homeschool Prom was meant to be a wholesome night and when Clare was approached (by women) for what they deemed inappropriate, she got mad and acted in a childish and disrespectful manner towards the adults in authority. It was only then that she was asked to leave.
Everyone can safely assume that a homeschool prom is going to be more conservative than a public school prom. Most people who homeschool do so because they want a more conservative environment for their children. Of course there are going to be more rules and regulations, yet many of the rules are identical to the rules enforced at public school proms. If a student is found in violation of any rule, he or she is removed without refund. More than one person (including myself) saw her dancing suggestively, which were grounds for removal. There has also been a lot of controversy about her being the only one to get kicked out, when in reality there were eight others who asked to leave as well. I find it sad that all of the stories about Clare’s experience are one sided and selectively choose which facts to report to gain more attention. I look forward to a day when yellow journalism and sensationalism isn’t an issue, but as I’m learning in history class – this isn’t the first time and it will not be the last.