Metro Weekly

Florida Girl Banned from Her Prom for Wearing a Suit

16-year-old Sophie Savidge was turned away from her junior prom because she arrived wearing traditionally male attire.

Sophie Savidge – Photo: WBBH

When 16-year-old Sophie Savidge, a junior at Mason Classical Academy, a charter school in Naples, Florida, arrived at the Vanderbilt Country Club for her school’s prom on May 11, she was turned away at the door.

The reason?

She was wearing a suit.

According to her mother, Holly, the school’s vice principal, Nissa Mitchell, told them her daughter’s suit violated the school’s dress code for formal events, and Sophie would only be able to return if she changed into a dress.

“I was so upset,” Holly Savidge told NBC News. “I said, ‘Sophie doesn’t wear dresses. She doesn’t like to wear dresses — it’s just not her.’ And [the vice principal] said, ‘Well, unfortunately, those are the rules.'”

Sophie said she hadn’t thought it would be a problem to wear a suit to prom. In fact, she’s previously worn suits to other events, including a Valentine’s Day dance in February.

“I was thinking I could possibly argue that with them if they said that I couldn’t come in, but I ended up being just kind of too shocked and nervous to really say anything to them,” she told NBC News.

“They have never denied her before but we were willing to take that risk because that’s just who Sophie is,” Holly said. “I’m very proud of her for taking that risk.”

Holly did some research and found a court decision from 2022, in which the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that a charter school’s dress code requiring girls to wear skirts and prohibiting them from wearing pants violated Title IX’s prohibitions on sex discrimination.

The school in the case, Charter Day School, a K-8 school in Leland, North Carolina, appealed, and the Supreme Court declined to hear the case, allowing the decision to stand.

Although Holly doesn’t plan to take any legal action against the school, she hopes it changes its dress code. She plans to home-school Sophie for her senior year, but that decision is unrelated to the prom incident, noting that her husband died last month and the family has struggled to find a sense of normalcy during this difficult time.

“That was the one thing up ahead that gave [Sophie] some light at the end of the tunnel or something fun to look forward to, was that prom,” she said.

Mason Classical Academy is standing by the decision.

It issued a statement to NBC saying that the dress code is “clearly presented and outlined to all students and parents. Any student who shows up to an MCA dance and does not abide by the dress code is given the opportunity to return to the dance in the proper attire.”

The school’s “guide to attire” appears on its website and contains a host of separate rules and restrictions for “gentlemen” and “ladies,” with different styles of dress for various events based on their formality.

For “formal” events, like prom, that means ladies are required to wear dresses and “one piece attire only.”

Since local news coverage drew attention to her story, Sophie has said two students have thanked her for taking a stand and have expressed a desire to wear suits to school events.

A local fashion designer, Peter Jean-Marie, contacted the Savidges and, during an in-person meeting at the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, gave Sophie five silk bow ties and taught her how to tie an Eldredge knot. 

Sophie hopes her story will encourage others to “stick up for what they believe in,” adding that they should “keep on pushing through even if other people don’t agree with how they want to express themselves.”

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