A Johnston County teenager and his grandfather’s kilt are getting international attention after he was refused entry into a Christian prom wearing the family heirloom.
David Leix of Selma had to change out of the kilt, which represents his late grandfather’s Scottish clan, before he could attend the “Praise Prom” on May 15. Organizers of the alternative Christian prom, which was created for home-schoolers, say his outfit didn’t meet the dress code.
But Leix, 16, said the dress code was ambiguous, adding that he was offended when prom organizers compared his kilt to a dress. He doesn’t have negative feelings toward the prom or its organizers; he just wants the dress code changed.
“A kilt is a really formal thing,” he said. “I was wearing it to be formal.”
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Since a TV station aired his story this week, Leix has gotten calls from as far away as the Daily Mail in London. An Associated Press version of the story has run in newspapers across the nation.
Leix, who is home-schooled but will attend Neuse Charter School in Smithfield next year, said the prom was in Wendell, about 10 miles from his house. After arriving with his girlfriend, Leix said many of the other students made positive comments about his outfit and that one adult volunteer said she liked it.
But while he was standing in line, another volunteer approached and asked for his etiquette agreement, or a list of rules promgoers must follow. The organizer read aloud the part about attire and told him he wouldn’t be admitted, he said.
Organizers of the “Praise Prom” did not respond to an interview request. But in a statement released to ABC11 on Monday, prom founder Traci Lanphere said Leix was not initially let in 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 specify a type of clothing.
“Young gentlemen, you may enjoy wearing a tuxedo, but it is not necessary for this event,” the agreement says. “Dress pants, shirt and tie are perfectly acceptable. Avoid jeans, shorts, sagging pants or T-shirts.”
Leix said prom organizers compared his kilt to a skirt and dress. He said they referred to the dress code for girls, which bars skirts and non-floor-length dresses.
“It’s disrespectful to call it a dress,” Leix said.
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 that a volunteer purchased for him at a nearby store.
In her statement to ABC11, Lanphere said the decision to refuse Leix entry wasn’t because of the kilt itself.
“We want to keep things about Jesus, and keep things very simple and straightforward,” she said in the statement. “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.”
Because Leix missed about two hours of the prom, Lanphere said she will refund him the cost of his $60 ticket. She added that the group is making changes to its policies but did not specify how.
Dunn: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104.