A Johnston County teenager and his grandfather’s kilt are getting international attention after he was denied entry into a prom wearing the family heirloom.
David Leix had to change out of the kilt, which represents his late grandfather’s Scottish clan, before he could enter the Praise Prom on May 15. Organizers of the Christian prom, created for home-schoolers, said his outfit didn’t meet the required dress code.
But Leix, 16, said the dress code was ambiguous, and the teen said he was offended when prom organizers compared his kilt to a dress. Leix, who lives east of Clayton, wants the prom to change its dress code, a message he’s shared through the numerous media outlets that have picked up the story.
Leix, who is currently home schooled but will attend Neuse Charter School next year, said this was his first prom. He and his girlfriend knew a lot of people going this year and thought it would be fun, he said.
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After arriving at the prom, held in Wendell, many of the attendees, including an adult volunteer, had positive comments about his outfit, Leix said.
But while he was standing in line to get in, another volunteer approached him and asked for his etiquette agreement, or the list of rules prom-goers had to adhere to. The organizer read aloud the part about attire and ultimately told him he wouldn’t be admitted, Leix said.
In a statement, prom founder Traci Lanphere said Leix was initially denied entry because he wasn’t wearing the “dress pants we required.”
Praise Prom attendees had to sign the etiquette agreement, which gave attire suggestions but did not require specific clothing.
“Young gentlemen, you may enjoy wearing a tuxedo, but it is not necessary for this event,” the etiquette agreement says. “Dress pants, shirt and tie are perfectly acceptable. Avoid jeans, shorts, sagging pants or T-shirts.”
While discussing his clothing, Leix said organizers compared his kilt to a skirt and dress. He said they referred to the girls’ dress code, which prohibited both skirts and dresses that didn’t go to the floor.
“When you talk about it in a serious manner, it’s disrespectful to call it a dress,” Leix said of a kilt.
Lanphere said neither she nor any of the other adults called his kilt a skirt. She said a student called the kilt a skirt, something she learned from talking to Leix’s mother on the phone.
Leix said he didn’t leave the prom because he knew the dance was important to his girlfriend. He eventually agreed to wear a pair of dress pants, which a volunteer purchased for him at a nearby store.
In her statement, Lanphere, the prom founder, said the decision to initially refuse Leix entry wasn’t because of the kilt itself.
“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,” Lanphere said.
Because he missed about two hours of the prom, Lanphere said she would refund Leix the cost of his $60 ticket. She added that the group is making changes to its policies.
Leix said he harbored no ill-will toward toward the prom or its organizers. He just wants the dress code changed.
“A kilt is a really formal thing, and I don’t think they understand that I wasn’t wearing this to be a butt,” Leix said. “I was wearing it to be formal.”
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