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Parents, students upset due to dress code enforcement at homecoming

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SOUTH JORDAN, Utah -- Tayler Gillespie was turned away from her homecoming dance at Bingham High School Saturday, and the teen wasn’t the only who expressed frustration over dress code enforcement at the dance.

“They said I either have to go home and get something to go under, or I'm not allowed in,” Gillespie said. “So I just decided to leave.”

And she wasn't the only one

“They pulled me to the side and asked me to twirl around to see if I was immodest, then made me sit against the wall,” Erika Shepherd said. “And while I was sitting against the wall there was about ten other girls that were sitting there being embarrassed."

Erika showed us her dress. It spills onto the floor, but Erika said those who were in charge of the dance told her: “It’s too low in the back’ and I needed to get a jacket or go home and change clothes.”

FOX 13 News reached out to assistant principal Janalee Taylor, who was at the dance. She declined an on-camera interview but told us the school's dress code for dances is very clear. She said it's on the schools website, is sent out as a reminder on a paper attached to dance tickets, and is reinforced in the annual school standards assembly.

It states in part: “Hemlines should go no higher than mid-thigh when seated.”

That's the reason Tayler said she was asked to leave.

“It’s been the same standards assembly for three years, they always have the same power point,” she said.

But she said dresses worn in past years were scrutinized this year, and not allowed.

Tayler also said she was never asked to sit to see where her hemline would fall.

“They just took a wild guess and said, ‘You’re not admitted in.'”

Veronica Perhson, Tayler's mother, spoke about the issue.

“I understand the need for a dress code, but I think it needs to be applied straight forward,” she said.

Tayler’s parents went to the school to speak with those in charge Saturday night, but they said they had a hard time getting answers.

“I asked them why they turned her away and then showed them a picture of her on the phone I'd taken myself of her sitting down where the dress meets her knees,” said Tayler’s father, Chad Perhson.

See the video above for images of the dresses mentioned in this story. Maddi Rowley is another student who was upset about the situation, and she emailed FOX 13 News a picture of her dress as well as her comments.

She stated: "Other girls were admitted into the dance wearing my same dress in different colors. I was in high heals (sic), as you can see, and I am a taller girl. I am very angry, especially because my date couldn't get his money refunded. Surely you can understand the injustice. I'm nearly an adult, and my parents allowed me to go out in this dress."

Bingham High School dress

Image courtesy Maddi Rowley.

109 comments

  • Dominique

    I am SO sick of this Tealiban puritanism that is pervading our country, especially Utah. These childish temper tantrums by so-called adults who are supposed to be leaders are just disgusting.

    Cheerleaders do not comply with their dress code. Do any cheerleaders get turned away when they wear their uniforms to school?

    Hypocrisy and self-righteous indignation has stooped to a new low. If I were one of those parents, I’d actually work to getting the other parents to start a class action lawsuit against that school.

    Seriously… I’m SO disgusted in that school!!!

    • Linda

      They may have a case, especially considering some of these ridiculous comments in this thread regarding the female students’ integrity. Can you say Defamation of Character? I also agree with the person who said this is a form of bullying these girls.

    • Brandy Anderson

      Looks more to me like it’s the students and parents throwing temper tantrums. “Mommy, it’s not fair” Sound like freaking two year olds, you knew the rules you didn’t follow them, you didn’t get in. Plain and simple your own fault. I wouldn’t have allowed my girls out of the house in two of those dresses, the short one in the video or the last picture in the article. Spin around once and you’re showing off your panties I don’t think so. The school did what was right. I’m sick of these spoiled brats screaming it’s not fair like a bunch of two year olds and getting their stories in the news it’s disgusting. The red dress I saw nothing wrong with but it did very obviously violate the dress code in the back. I would not have bought it for my child simply because it didn’t follow the dress code which they knew well in advance. They didn’t like it they should have tried to get it changed before the dance instead of saying okay then screaming foul afterwards.

  • Tee

    My kids attend a Private Catholic School and their dress codes are the same.. does this mean the Catholic faith is a CULT or a bunch of Pedophiles ? Lame people make Lame remarks!! Follow the dress code and there won’t be any problems..PERIOD!!

    • Chad

      You just don’t get it! The dispute is not over the dress code. Almost nobody disagrees with the dress code. It’s over the implementation of some of the dress code. For instance, the dress code states “Hemlines should go no higher than mid-thigh when seated.” My daughters hemline is well below mid-thigh when she is seated, however when Bingham had couples lining up at the doors to get in, they were just asking the girls to stand against a wall and turn around and were making a judgement based on them just standing there. They never had the girls sit to see where the hemline actually goes to. Bingham didn’t follow their own code in making the determination, and sent couples packin that didn’t deserve to go. Now you see? There is a problem.

    • socalborn

      Clearly you didn’t read the article or you need some assistance with your reading comprehension. They didn’t even check her properly, according to the way they check. She did the check herself and she was actually dressed to code. Catholics and Mormons are completely different so for you to compare the 2 is unintelligent. Good luck with improving your reading abilities.

  • Kristie Frost

    Definition of Discrimination: Discrimination is action that denies social participation or human rights to categories of people based on prejudice. This includes treatment of an individual or group… Restricting members of one group from opportunities or privileges that are available to another group, leaden to the exclusion of the individual or entities based on logical or irrational decision making.

    • Kristie Frost

      The dress code was sent out to parents, parents took the information and bought dress that they thought met the standards. Then once at the school it was left up to the Principal and Vice Principal’s decision making the girls turn around and bend over sit down and this was all done in the open and not in private. Some girls show up in the same dress, one is allowed in the other is told to go change, all based on personal opinion and discrimination! again “Irrational decision making” exclusion of an individual to a social activity. My caught attends Bingham and was allowed into the dance, only because the first dress that i bought was considered to be to low in the back. So I bought a second dress so there was to be no issue. This is not about modesty, strapless dresses are permitted. Its about interpretation of rules, and the two women that seek CONTROL!

      • Minermom

        Absolutely! This was all about the administrator’s interpretation of the dress code. Someone should have sent an email to everyone that said the dress code is going to be enforced differently than ever before and we will be standing there with everything but a tape measure. All of this in order to see if anyone is even close to to our interpretation of what should pass or shouldn’t pass. Are any of these dresses really all that terrible? Remember you can go strapless at Bingham but don’t use lace to cover up a small plunge in the back that doesn’t even reach the bra-strap, we can see through that if we get close. Things have never been like this before. There aren’t a bunch of girls running around in plunging necklines and dresses that go sky high. Half the skirts I saw in the hall today would have been coded at the dance.

  • Concerned Bingham High School Teacher

    I have an idea. Why don’t we just eliminate dress codes. In fact, why don’t we just post signs in every school that says, “There are no consequences for the choices you make as long as you can get your parents and the news to apply enough pressure on the offending party.” Look, I understand that some girls were embarrassed and hurt and that’s never fun. But you must understand that the dress code has been spelled out in great detail from just about the very beginning of the school. Literally, it has been said over announcements every morning for the last two weeks. The students know the dress code. They knew it before they bought their dresses. Anyone who says otherwise is misinformed. This issue isn’t about judgmental mormons, or church and state, or whether or not there should be a dress code. The issue is that students knew what was expected of them, they ignored that and showed up anyway expecting to get in, and when they were turned away, they got their parents and the news media involved.

    Why wasn’t this article titled “Administrators follow through with the standards of their school.” The same parents and media get up in arms that teachers are failing students and that education is on a decline. Well, let me tell you why. Because parents and news outlets are undermining the ability of teachers and administrators to issue consequences when students don’t comply with standards. Lets have it one way or other. Either get rid of all standards, thus eliminating the need for consequences, or let’s actually enforce the ones we have.

    More disturbingly is that Fox 13 showed up at Bingham High School at 1:00pm during school hours to film a staged protest by students. Classes were totally disrupted and hard to get back on track for the rest of the day. Are you parents with high school kids out there OK knowing that they can just come when they want and grind learning activities to a halt in the school for a good hour and a half?

    I think another station should do a news article titled “Fox 13 shows up without permission to local high school and disrupts classes in the middle of school.” If that doesn’t bother some of you out there then our education system here in our state is in serious trouble.

    • Perry Newman

      If Bingham High School had a competent administration this would have never escalted to this level. The novice principal of 1 year had no previous high school admnistrative experience. There have been complaints by parents, teachers, students and expecially alumni about Richards Kong, principal, all of which have fallen on deafened ears. Richards Kong must be reassigned today, the previous and retired Principal Tom Hicks should be hired to retore what has been lost at Bingham and to hire a competent principal. I call on Jordan School District and the School Board to do the next right thing, fire Ms. Richards Kong, and reassign her administrators.

      • Concerned Bingham High School Teacher

        Hey Perry Newman. All I have to say is, you go do her job for a week or two and then see what you think. If she is so incompetent you should have no problem juggling her schedule and managing a student body of 2400 and a staff of 120 or so. Easy as pie…

      • Concerned Bingham High School Teacher

        Feel grateful if your mistakes aren’t broadcasted on the news and held under a microscope so anyone with an opinion can criticize at leisure.

      • Darin Graber

        Perry,

        I am appalled at your comments. If this is what you and the other BHS Alumni association board members, including Crump, really think of our present administration, then count me and my organization OUT of any participation in association events from this point forward. You all clearly have NO idea what your talking about regarding what Is happening at Bingham during the day and what has been happening with our administration. The previous principal let your organization run rampant and without any guidance or parameters. Richards-Khong has been tasked to cleaning up the horrible mess left by the “good ‘oil boys club” and from where I sit, has done a pretty decent job considering the mess she was handed. You and the Alumni Association are under the service of the Bingham Admin, not the other way around. How is the view from the cheap seats Perry and Alumni Association? Give me a break!

      • Minermom

        Darin, I’ve heard so many complaints about the current Principal before this happened and just wrote them off. No longer! She wan incorrect in what she did Saturday night. She was totally prepared for making a stand and used our girls and the Homecoming dance to do it. She had a police officer at the door to escort them out. Just to clarify, most of the girls knew the dress code and supported it. It’s very clear. For the length, the code is mid thigh when sitting. My daughter’s almost touched her knees when sitting. The administration did not care. They enforced the codes the way they saw fit, by their own standards, not by Bingham’s code. I’m tired of everyone throwing the girls under the bus. This was an administration that is out of control. Over 100 girls were coded at the dance. The first day after the story the administration was saying 12, the next day a couple dozen. Today they are admitting to 50. There as so many girls posting pictures now and you would be amazed at some of the dresses that were denied and others that were let in. I can’t feel sorry for Richards-Khong, she wanted to make a point, well she did.

    • JoJo

      Thank you for teaching our BHS kids, and thank you for these comments. You are exactly right. 900 kids managed to dress appropriately and had a great time at the dance. I also teach at BHS and I will say it is no surprise which kids were kicked out of the dance and which ones walked out at 1:00 today.

      • T

        Wow! What a comment from a teacher…… I am not sure what to say but there were some really really good girls that were not allowed into the dance it sounds like you are passing judgment on what type of kids were not allowed in the dance and also what kids walked out at 1:00….. Like I said wow, you should look in the mirror and not judge these kids shame on you

      • socalborn

        Jojo you are a pathetic person if you really are a teacher there. Hiding behind the Internet like a pathetic coward. You should be ashamed of yourself but you’re probably LDS and think you’re better than everyone else and have the right to judge because of it. You’re a low life and clearly need help with your reading skills. Other girls were allowed in with the same dress and the girl kicked out was not tested properly. You should resign from your position and come out from hiding coward.

      • Minermom

        Jojo, it’s teachers like you that are the problem. My daughter was “coded” she is a good kid, has a job and good grades. We were very surprised she was coded, as was a bishop and a second counselor and many more parents who thought, as their daughters did that they met dress code standards. I can’t believe that you would make a remark like that. These were teenage girls who are now being shamed for following the code as it is written. It was the administration that was out of bounds. You should be ashamed for your small mindedness and judgmental attitude!

    • J

      If the news article were titled “Administrators follow through with standards at school”, how exactly do you explain one girl getting in the dance and another girl wearing the same dress in a different color not getting in? This is a high school dance not a church youth group dance, if you don’t want your child exposed the the skin of some girls back then don’t allow them to go to the high school dances. The dominant faith in this city holds youth dances all the time and they have a very strict dress code there. I would rather my kids be wearing fancy dresses and having fun at a dance then being turned away to let them go make mischief out on the town on their own. Furthermore, if my daughters are ever asked by an adult to “twirl around” while being watched to see if their dress flares up to see if it is too short, they better know I am gonna fight my hardest at having that sick individual removed. What right minded adult would be ok in having young girls do that in front of them, or by being given that as an instruction from another adult and actually following through with it. Child exploitation anyone? Again I think that the administration should have focused on providing a fun yet safe environment for kids to come be together and keep them out of trouble instead of sending them away.

    • MM

      This is not about ‘just toss out the code! vs follow the rules’ because it looks like the rules were arbitrarily upheld. There may of been a few girls who really did violate the dress code but really look at the girls in this story – especially the girl in the red ball gown – now why would she be asked to spin? she was in a floor length gown, it would not fly up over her head. Did she look like an adult woman at a the red carpet event? Yes. Did she look sexy,slutty,scantily clad? NO. It would never occur to me that this was the ‘low cut back’ dress that all the fuss was about. Because it was not.
      There are some 16 year old girls who are built like Dora the Explorer and others like Jessica Rabbit. That does not mean that the girls with grown up voluptuous figures, are bad, immoral, rule breakers – they are still nice young girls that your school has labeled scandalous and dirty. It seems more like these girls are being coded and punished for having bodies as opposed to what they are wearing. The young lady in the purple Barbie dress would look sexy in a berka but that does not mean she is purposely breaking the rules, or being immodest – also her dress would of passed the ‘sit test’ had that actually been tested. This sounds like adult administrators being uncomfortable with students who look like women and not little girls. And for who ever commented – ‘if it’s so important to them why not change and come back?’ Aside from the fact they arrived feeling beautiful and happy and were subsequently humiliated in front of their friends, dates, teachers, and classmates and now have to face their folks and explain to them why they are home 3 hours early? Well, not all teenagers have transportation (may of been dropped off/arrived with friends who are in the dance) may not have a second dress, or just feel to mortified to return.

    • David Bill

      Your argument is backwards. It’s not the dress code that was ignored. It was how the dress code was enforced. These girls were not required to sit so their hemlines could be evaluated. Sitting down was in the dress code wording. If you are going to judge literally than get it right.

  • Jefferson nall

    The dress looks fine. Each year there’s a story about prom dresses and how there getting shorter. Welcome to the 20th century not the 1980s Times are changing look at your phone in your hand. From a big brick phone to a sassy slim phone. Times change in everything we do. Even a prom dress.

  • L

    Brava for the school standing up for their standards, which were obviously well define beforehand. Was it an LDS standard? No. Or the girls would have been turned away for strapless, straps, anything that didn’t stay below the knee when seated, etc etc.

    And guys? Really. Is there evidence that there were girls in the dance that were held to a different standard and allowed into the dance, or is that just the comment of an angry teenager trying to sensationalize what she went through? It may have been so, but it could very well have been her trying to get pity points about others being in there with the same dress. Just saying.

  • scraphappyrhodes

    What a bunch of wannies! They should have actually read the dress code before buying their dress and followed the rules. That is the problem with the world today! No one wants the rules to apply to them!

  • Ayma Ratt

    Girls I thinks you look gorgeous!. It’s outrageous that you were turned away. I’m so glad I don’t have high school aged kids. I’d be down there raising hell everyday. Why is only ever the girls they pick on?

  • BRyon

    If you look at this girls Facebook page, that is NOT the dress she was wearing. The dress she wore to the dance was WELL below the top of the armpit as it clearly stated in the dress code.

  • Christopher F Cheney

    Very well put about the cherrleading but the dress i saw from the first lady seem to be shorter than if i was a father i wouldn’t like but we couldn’t really see the full back of the second dress. my issue only with second dress is the tripping hazzard. but i me who gives a blank if part of there back shows? its not there front skin or anything showing that wrong… the school here is being overly pushed and i am sure some girls ignored the rules. They should pay people back who didn’t get in over some over no tolerance adults

  • C'MON BINGHAM STUDENTS

    These kids knew the dress code but went and bought dresses that didn’t abide by the code?

    Are Bingham students really that dumb??!?!?

  • Willis Stillright

    it is alarming that people upset over this minuscule issue. The over reaction in many of these comments over such a minor issue is a sad commentary on this society.

  • Joseph Moore

    good day to everyone. I attended a public school in St Augustine FL that had the same dress code, with the same results . Schools are allowed to enforce a standard of decency in their buildings and its the students fault for trying to bend the rules and its the parents fault for not catching it before hand.
    stop your crying and grow up because every where you go there is a dress code, so get over it

  • Cheryl Neilsen Roberts

    what happen to the girls getting dressed up in a beautiful long gown and the boys in a tux, now its how short, tight and low the dress is. I f the school has a dress code then they should go by that. I know i am old fashion but when i went to school we had a dress code and we all went by it. There has to be rules for us all. We have to have the kids learn that in life there are rules even in the work force you have a dress code. can you imagine what a office would look like if we all got to wear what we want. You work in a fast food or restaurant you have a dress code, there are uniforms for all stages of life. PARENT get over it and dress your child by the dress code.

  • John Doe

    Honestly I feel like you are all idiots attcking each other on the Internet. The school did what it did. Who’s to say they were right or wrong?

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