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Hockaday Ditches White Dress Requirements for Graduation

The revised dress code comes several years after a petition called for ‘an alternative option that will better suit gender nonconforming students.’
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Hockaday students will no longer have to wear white dresses at graduation.

Starting next year, seniors can instead opt for a white graduation robe and mortarboard, reports our sister publication People Newspapers. The graduating class will continue to vote on a single white dress that many students will choose to wear at the ceremony.

Thus ends a 101-year-old dress code at the elite all-girls private school, where the white dresses and floral hats of the graduating class have long evoked a kind of “Southern belle attire.”

The dress code revision comes several years after an online petition asked Hockaday to allow graduating students to wear pants, calling for “an alternative option that will better suit gender nonconforming students.” The school “has many openly LGBTQIA+ students, a Gender and Sexuality Awareness club, and pro acceptance stance, but has strict regulations regarding graduation attire,” reads the petition, which circulated in 2015.

From People Newspapers:

Hockaday said the decision came after a working group formed to examine graduation attire researched the matter, considering the school’s history, practices of other peer schools, and other source material, including research about teen girls’ body image, self-confidence, mental health, and emotional well-being.

The group also consulted with the senior class and their parents, as well as faculty, alumnae, and the Board of Trustees.

That research found that other girls’ schools are now allowing more variety in graduation attire, including choices of dresses, pants or suits, or caps and gowns.

“As a leader in girls’ education, Hockaday remains committed to our mission: Believing in the limitless potential of girls, Hockaday develops resilient, confident women who are educated and inspired to lead lives of purpose and impact,” Head of School Karen Warren Coleman says. “This change will allow us to live out this mission more fully and sustain a culture of genuine inclusion and belonging for all girls.”

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