NORTH ATTLEBORO (CBS) — For decades, North Attleboro High School graduates have worn two different colored gowns at commencement – red for men and white for women. On Monday, Principal Peter Haviland announced to the class of 2018 that seniors this year will wear red only in an effort to become “gender neutral.”
He told WBZ-TV the community is steeped in tradition, “but a school always has to evaluate those traditions to make sure that they continue to be inclusive and that they provide a safe environment for all members of the same community.”
Haviland said he saw a recent survey of 50 schools and North Attleboro was one of four who hadn’t done anything to make commencement gender neutral.
“We want to make sure that our school at North Attleboro is very inclusive,” high school senior Mackenzie Rosenberg said. “We want to make sure everyone feels proud to be from North Attleboro.”
Two seniors who are upset about the decision say students should have been included in the discussion before the policy change. They created an online petition calling for the school to let seniors choose which color to wear. The petitioners insist “color doesn’t have a gender.”
Principal Haviland says that he is now having “extended conversations” with students to find a way to maintain tradition while being inclusive to all who may have gender identification issues.