Group clarifies Johnston County prom kilt controversy

Monday, May 18, 2015
Kilt controversy nearly keeps teen from attending prom
A Johnston County teen was almost shut out from the big dance all because he was wearing a kilt.

JOHNSTON COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- The organization "Praise Prom" is commenting on an incident that temporarily left a Johnston County teen shut out from the big dance all because he was wearing a kilt.

"His delayed admittance into the Praise Prom did not have to do with his kilt," Praise Prom founder and director Traci Lanphere told ABC11 in a written statement. "(I)t had to do with him not wearing the dress pants we required."

You can read Lanphere's full statement at the bottom of this article.

Sixteen-year-old David Leix said he wore his late grandfather's kilt but was surprised when prom volunteers wouldn't let him in.

"They started going into 'well even for dresses it's too short to be a dress,' I was being quiet, 'OK we're calling it a dress. That's not what it is," said Leix, who stressed how calling a kilt a dress is extremely offensive.

Leix and his date went to the Praise Prom. On its website, it's described as a Christian alternative prom for kids who are homeschooled. The dress code for the prom is also listed on the website. For guys, the dress code says pants are acceptable and that jeans, shorts and baggy pants are not.

"I want to be proud of where I'm from," said Leix.

Leix had no idea that something as formal as a kilt, which he has been wearing to formal events since childhood, would raise a red flag.

"I feel like his prom night was tarnished by the whole thing," said Hillary Leix, David's mother.

She and her son say he was denied access to the prom until he agreed to change. She says no one from the prom called her to tell her what had happened, instead fellow prom parents arranged for someone to buy David a pair of black pants. So after missing two hours of prom, he was allowed in while wearing those pants.

For next year, David said he doesn't plan to attend the Praise Prom, but hopes the memory of his ordeal will change things for someone else.

"I want to see it changed to where any ethnic thing, if it's a kilt or any other ethnicity where you're from, who you are should be able to be worn," said David.

Monday, Praise Prom founder and director Traci Lanphere released the following statement about the incident to ABC11:

"It is my understanding that David felt we didn't allow him into the Praise Prom because of his kilt. I was very sad to hear this because it is not true, as I want every student who attends the Praise Prom to feel loved and respected. His delayed admittance into the Praise Prom did not have to do with his kilt, it had to do with him not wearing the dress pants we required. He signed the same agreement that nearly 100 other teens signed and adhered to and hundreds more have done the same for all these years. In this policy it is stated that "You may enjoy wearing a tuxedo, but it is not necessary for this event. Dress pants, shirt, and tie are perfectly acceptable. Avoid jeans, shorts, sagging pants, or t-shirts." We have never had a young man question this dress code. We feel that they all have understood what we were hoping to convey, that they don't have to spend a ton of money on a tux, and that dress pants, dress shirt and tie are the only requirements. I expressed to David that I thought his kilt was amazing and that I respected him and his respectful attitude concerning this situation. I asked if he had signed our etiquette agreement, and he responded that he had. I asked him if he thought he might be questioned about his kilt and he said no. His date handed me their signed agreement and I read to them the words explaining the young men's dress requirements. He still insisted that he was not breaking our dress code. I was heartbroken to have to explain to him that he would not be permitted into the prom the way he was dressed. I asked if he could put some pants under the kilt, he rejected that idea. I asked if he could go home and change and he said no. I asked if his parents could bring him some pants, and he said they lived too far away. I could have simply asked him to leave because he did not adhere to our dress code, but I wanted to do everything I could to make this situation better. I believe I was showing him love and acceptance when I suggested that he and his date follow me to the photographer and have a free picture made in his kilt while we tried to locate him a pair of dress pants, which he agreed he would wear in place of his kilt. Finally, we made arrangements for another chaperon to leave and go purchase him some pants. David did miss about 1/2 of the prom. I believe it's because he chose to show up in clothing that did not meet the requirements we set. If he would have contacted us before the day of the Praise prom to ask if his clothing choice was appropriate, as so many other students do, we would have avoided this entire thing and he would have been able to enjoy the entire prom.

"Because of this situation we will be making some changes to our policies. Our etiquette agreement is the students' ticket into the Praise Prom. It must be signed and brought to the Prom. It was created to keep things clear and flowing smoothly for everyone on Prom night. We want to keep things about Jesus, and keep things very simple and straight forward. We support people who want to celebrate their special heritages, and suggest that David and his Mom perhaps create a special heritage night or dance. I'm impressed with David and his energy, creativity and enthusiasm to go to such lengths to convince us to change our policy. I celebrate with him the freedom we have in this country, and exercise mine, as I stand firm in our policy of dress pants, dress shirt and tie only for boys at the Praise Prom. I will reimburse David the cost of his prom ticket, which was $60.00 and wish him well."

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