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This High School Is Saying ‘Bye, Felicia’ To Graduation Gender Norms

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For years, many high schools across the country have maintained a tradition of having male and female students wear different color graduation robes. James Hubert Blake High School in Montgomery County, Maryland, is one such school. However, this is the last year they'll be doing that.

Starting next year, the school will have one color for all graduates in an effort to make graduation a more inclusive celebration for everyone -- regardless of gender.

According to the Washington Post, last June, the Gay Straight Alliance at James Hubert Blake High School was contacted about a neighboring school, in which four transgender students were not allowed to wear the graduation colors they preferred.

“It kind of galvanized us to realize there are way more than four kids out there,” said Mary Wagner, a Blake GSA faculty sponsor.

Since then, the school's GSA, called Allies 4 Equality, has been leading the charge on the change, writing to principals throughout the county. They note that "colleges use robes in one color," and that "same-color robes make it easier for staff to organize students and for families watching the ceremony to follow along."

But most importantly, the change would allow students of all gender expressions to feel comfortable.

“Best of all, students will only be recognized for their accomplishments, which is the true meaning of the ceremony,” the Allies 4 Equality's letter said.

Though the effort was met with some pushback, ultimately, Principal Christopher Berry decided to move forward with the Allies 4 Equality's suggested change. It was decided the class of 2016 will be the first class to usher in the new dress code, in order to "give opponents time to adjust and so juniors would know what to expect for next year."

Although she'll be graduating in white -- the gender-assigned color for girls at Blake -- GSA member Chloe Martin-Poteet considers the group's effort a win for future grads. "It's exciting to accomplish something you know will last, she said.

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