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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

  • Doug Fox

    Hurricane High sent a Girl Home due to Hair Color. It wasn’t even multicolored. I never have liked the Schools in Uta(x) anyway. Our experience in Cedar even with SUU was not good. Oh, we had 5 children that we had in schools.

  • Justin Randolph

    This is crazy!! The cheerleaders skirts, dance team, volleyball, tennis, and swim team should all be in sweatpants then. What a joke!!!

    • jojo

      That’s a silly comment no one from swim team, dance company, volley ball, soccer or cheer leaders was trying to get into the dance in their UNIFORMS. These dress codes are for the dance not for other activities. In fact none of those groups except the cheerleaders even wears their uniform to school and when the cheerleaders do it by assignment for a purpose. A uniform is the exception to these rules.

      • Justin Randolph

        They are all school sponsored events. What does it matter if it was a dance. At all the other events there are more people to see these so called inappropriate outfits. Young kids and older family members. But it’s ok there? Seems legit.

  • Noni

    I wish Utahns would grow up. This is pathetic. Stop being so critical. You judge others because you can’t stand yourself…

    • Judy

      Wow, just in Utah, huh? You are super naïve if you think this kind of stuff only happens in Utah. If you are so bitter about the people here leave….but good luck finding a place where people aren’t critical and judgmental because its everywhere dear. Under a rock, maybe?

      • amber

        Oops meant to hit reply. But Judy have you lived outside utah an attended any schools or had your children. I do also believe there was an article posted recently about utah being top ten rudest people. .. utah is very judgemental for multiple reasons. This control going on in public schools is getting out of hand. It’s not private so they need to relax a little and maybe spend more time and energy on the education not that a brown head girl has blonde highlights. And last like made in a previous comment tennis cheerleaders drill team etc hell even soccer shorts are that length of the dresses, needs to be redone then.

    • Lacey

      I live in Colorado with kids at two different schools, one neighborhood, on charter. Both have the same dress code – if a skirt or shorts don’t reach the finger tips, it’s not allowed. Sorry, but it is not just Utah.

  • Ridiculous

    It said in the news story that some of the students went to Copper Hills where they were accepted. The principal at Copper Hills is a male and is happy to have kids at school where they can experience many activities. When a female principal takes the helm, It seems to be all about dress not character,etc. Girls were turned away at a stomp Sept. 5 for wearing leggings. When Mr. Hicks left Bingham to take a district assignment the female principal canceled all stomps because she said the girls didn’t dress appropriately. I work in a school. The teachers wear sleeveless shirts and leggings. At Bingham the girls were told no leggings and shirts must have a capped sleeve. That is not what it says in JSD dress code.

  • Linda

    Many of the Minerettes were dress coded last night, too. The daughter of a Mormon Bishop was also dress coded. It has nothing to do with religion nor popularity. This is all due to the new principal and her sick desire for power and control.

      • FabulousThree&Me

        You proclaim this has nothing to do with your church and therefore it doesn’t? That illustrates the problem. Thank you. The LDS church cultivates self righteous, judgmental people. It is religion of pettiness. Every time the word modesty is used the mormon church is suspect. If you don’t like this, work to change it from within, not on comment boards. There is no reason the pettiness cannot be addressed from the pulpit just as effectively as the finger-waggin’ mormons are created from it.

    • JoJo

      Bob have you guys even read the dress code? It’s really not that strict and it certainly allows for clothes that the “typical Mormon” wouldn’t wear and no the principal making the call isn’t Mormon. Nice try though you guys. Maybe you can blame bad weather on the Mormons too, you blame them for everything else you don’t like.

  • Jordan

    I understand parents being upset if the dress code is being enforced unfairly but I think more parents need to be holding their children accountable for their choices. The dress code is in place for a reason and if they aren’t following the rules they shouldn’t be allowed to participate. I think we are teaching our children that they can do as they please and then find someone else to blame when they get caught breaking rules. Parents need to be teaching their children that they are responsible for the consequences of their choices instead of trying to find a way around the rules.

  • Kadi

    I’m currently attending bingahm high school and there dress code is ridiculous! I did not attend the dance but I have a friend who did attend who was turned away for her dress, the reason why she was turned away is because the back of her dress was to low, which really it wasn’t. The dress code at bingahm is the dumbest thing, I was perfectly fine with it last year and so were all the students. But this yet when we had our standards assembly every student walked out of it with something to say about the dress code. It was what every student was talking about. The students at bingahm aren’t happy with it. Maybe this will make Bingham realize that it needs change. Girls have said that they feel like the dress code is pretty much body shaming. Their whole dress code is ridiculous and I’m so glad something is finally being said and done about it.

    • Angie

      Just a thought… you state in your comment that your friend was kicked out because the dress was too low in the back… then you said it wasn’t really. If the school states the standards, you need to follow the rules. Don’t buy a dress and then boo hoo if it doesn’t meet the dress code. I don’t think the school was being malicious. They have rules. If you choose not to follow the rules, you can’t play the game. It has nothing to do with religion, this will happen when you are an adult too. You choose to dress a certain way and that is your freedom. However, the institution also has a right to uphold a dress code. It looks pretty clear to me, if I was a mother to a young lady going to a school dance, I would make sure the dress I buy meets dress code before I spend the money!

  • Renier Flores

    One thing that was not mentioned is how they cheated these kids out of their money. They made them pay before telling them that they cannot go in and then told them there is no refund. $30.00 to get plus $10.00 for pictures.

  • Jackie

    I was a cheerleader for CHHS, but I had gone to a few dances at Bingham in (2010). I wore dresses like the teal one the blond girl is wear. Why not just give a warning, and to let them dance! I went to Bingham’s prom in 2011, and was told I need a jacket to cover my strapless dress, or go home and change. But once they saw my date was a football player, they just told me to pull my top up. It is ridiculous how they treat people.

  • Nicole

    This is outrageous! This is nothing less than sexual harassment and abuse. NO ONE would allow this to happen to boys. I’m disgusted by the adults who are supposed to be in charge. they put these girls bodies on display more than any dress ever could. And what year is it where we are still measuring hemlines?

  • Billy

    They should just have the dance at the closest LDS church. This state can’t separate church and government. The whole state should be sued until they follow the law.

  • karli

    I am currently attending bingham high school, and i think this is ridiculous. Standards for our dances as well as just at school everyday have been clearly outlined and posted in numerous places. Girls knew what to expect and did not follow the rules. The fact that their parents are letting them complain angers me because the school did nothing wrong and now students will keep complaining till they get what they want. Also this is not an LDS issue. These were the schools rules and the LDS church had no say in them. Girls should know that you dont have to dress imodestly to feel pretty. And dressing modestly makes you and everyone around you comfortable. I applaud bingham administration for keeping the rules straight and showing girls it’s not okay.

    • Ann

      Well said Karli! My daughter also goes to Bingham, and the whole school was told over and over this dress code would be enforced for weeks before the dance. As a parent, I received two emails about it. It was on the morning announcements, on the school website, with a notice when tickets were purchased, and they even had an assembly about it. The dress code was very clear. It is crazy that now these girls, who knew the rules well ahead of time, are now somehow the victims here.

      • Minermom

        Am I missing something? The dress code was posted in this story, and I too received the two emails on dress code, did you read it? It says that the dress must reach mid thigh when seated. Most of the girls clearly met dress code standards, as they have at all other dances. None of these girls were told to sit down, they were met at the door, judged ambiguously and turned away. The problem is in how the dress code was applied. Girls wearing the same exact dresses were allowed in while others were turned away. There were many girls turned away that were LDS and non LDS, judging the girls for speaking out is the is the wrong thing to do here.

    • Sara

      I applaud you in making a very appropriate statement. Clearly just by looking at the two photos you can see inches above their knees, I can’t imagine how high they will go when seated. I would never let my daughter go to a dance when clearly breaking rules then getting upset when she was sent home. I don’t believe they were being attacked, they were told they would need to cover up or change. No vulgar words or slang terms were used and her judgment of the dress was wrong-not in dress code when she knew the rules.

      • Nathen

        It should be up to the parents to police their kids, not the school. As a non Mormon who attended Copper Hills, I can attest to the fact that the rules of the schools and the district are set based on the religious ideals of others. Heck, teachers couldn’t even show R rated movies to a class of seniors (average age: 17.5).
        There is nothing wrong with that dress. This isn’t the 1950s. Having a dress that shows the knees isn’t going to lead to “fornication and sinful behavior”.

      • Ronalg

        The LDS Church doesn’t care about dress standards in schools. The dress codes are established by the School District, and it isn’t only in Utah where this is happening. School districts throughout the country have the same restrictions.

  • Kathy

    I don’t have kids at that school but I think if one of the adults told my daughter that she was dressed “immodest”, I would feel her morals and values had been questioned and her morals and values were attacked.. It is totally wrong to attack a girl with that, and make her feel less than. I do know that immodest is an lds statement. But I world be pretty upset by that statement. And I believe it is sexual hassrement. And not refund the money, come on really, what year is this, sounds like the person in charge needs meds, so she can get her head out of her narrow rigid thinking. Sorry to the young people who were treated so rudely and missed their dance.

  • choke

    This is not that complex an issue. Parents should take the time to review these kinds of policies. If they don’t like them, fight to get them changed before hand. Don’t get angry about enforcement – attack the policy. The old “well others were allowed to do it” or “in the past this was allowed” just doesn’t hold water. You can get any policy changed if you get organized, but being ignorant of rules and then crying about it afterward never works out well.

  • strangelywise

    Why do we expect the women to be the up holders of modesty and virtue? Shouldn’t we be teaching boys that no matter what a girl is wearing she’s still a lady and deserves respect? The way people teach modesty to girls is that you need to make sure too much skin isn’t showing so the BOYS won’t get distracted. Why are boy’s undisciplined thoughts higher priority than a girl’s autonomy?

    Personally, if you haven’t gotten it already, I think strict dress codes for girls like this perpetuate a negative mindset for boys thinking that what a girl is wearing is an indicator to whether she is ‘open for business’ and therefore can’t be responsible for their perverse thoughts and actions. That does not mean that modesty is bad, it just needs to be more grounded in a woman’s sense of worth when taught than using the fear of the possibility of rape or molestation.

  • Kendra

    First of all, this dress is stunning. The religious dogma in Utah needs to stop. Stop shaming our girls, quit humiliating them over something trivial and meaningless. One of these days, I’m going to put together an alternative prom, so no one has to go through small-minded scrutiny.

  • LouAnn

    Its about time some Schools step up and say short is not allowed anything 3 fingers above the knee is to short its disgraceful that the parents even allow short dresses in the first place!

  • Chris

    If it costs so much you would think they would make sure they meet or beat the code. It is not like they are movie stars seeing who can show the most skin. It can’t be that hard to shay modest.

  • Melissa

    As a dressmaker, I notice that the hem of the dress is very bulky and too wide. It looks as though someone has hemmed the dress themselves.

  • Shyla

    I thought the dresses were beautiful! At least the ones I saw on the broadcast. I feel more embarrassed for the school officials and the local police dept. for their blatant disregard for freedom of expression of our youth. We are not robots, nor do I condone authority personnel over riding domestic decisions of this nature. I’m not saying that there isn’t perhaps a problem, as I honestly don’t know, but my personal reaction is one of disgust with individuals social classing according to their personal beliefs.

  • Mary

    Women with self respect and dignity don’t NEED dress codes because they won’t dress in ways that would go near violating one. Think about it. Our culture, which is infected with the liberals’ war on women, teaches girls absurd, backwards, and destructive things such as “show as much skin as you can” and “put off marriage” and “treat intimacy as a fun game with strangers” and “you must compete with other women to see who can be more shocking, who can reveal more skin and get more attention.”

    • Phil Varley

      You’re absolutely right Mary ! Women were dressing long before any dress codes were established. Our women should cover themselves from shoulders to ankles. The should get married as soon as they are able to conceive instead of putting marriage off. They should be married to someone they have known for at least 1 year. They should not compete against other women to see who can reveal the most flesh to get attention for to do so could be construed as an act of prostitution. I wasn’t aware that liberals had a war on women. As I recall women decided to burn their bras, And decided that the female body was beautiful and should not be hidden from neck to ankle. I am wondering if those liberals are trying to convince the female members of the LDS faith that they belong in the priest hood meetings ? Can’;t the women create their meetings and groups within the church ? I mean the elders in those meetings are working for the lord. And I’ve yet to see a single female block teacher cruising the neighborhood teaching the Mormon faith and praying for people to be blessed. As I see it, the youth of our nation should be allowed to express their self through communications and behaviors. More and more this state is becoming a dictatorship in my opinion or maybe it’s a religionship since the state government and school boards are governed primarily by Mormons. . Give the choices back to our youth, If raised with morals and ethics that are appropriate they will make the right decisions And if they don’t then they are responsible for their choices and will pay the consequences. Compliance of a dress code is based on one’s interpretation of the code. Perhaps to smooth over the issue all schools should become uniformed. Then there’s no guessing as to whether a hemline is an inch too long or a finger too short.

  • Jake

    How is this news? What is the next big headline, “Parents, students upset due to Unruly student removed from classroom.” Student said, “It was embarrassing and other student were doing the same thing.”

  • J

    It looks to me like the dress code list was VERY clear, whether you believe girls should be covered or not. And it seems to me that hundreds of other girls were able to find something that DID meet dress code standards. All the pix I see, none of the dressed meet dress code standards listed. if your dress does not meet mid thigh standing it certainly wont sitting (even if other shorter girls do fit into the dress making it longer). It seems the issue here isn’t whether or not they complied with dresscode, but whether schools should have a dress code. Also pretty sure Utah isn’t the only state with schools that enforce a dress code.

  • nathan

    it is just the morality police. It seems every year we got more and more stories of school Officials selectivity enforcing Their own code of what is acceptable and what isn’t. When is Utah going to legalize Adulthood. Seriously people this is getting old. We spend all this time talking about bullying in schools, but yet that is exactly what this is. Not to mention setting a bad example for Body image for these Girls

  • Linda

    Mary, your comments are absolutely ridiculous! To say that the (approximately) 65 girls that were dress coded are without dignity and self-respect is absurd and completely without merit. You do NOT personally know these girls and their parents, and you certainly don’t know their political stances! You are ignorant in your own self-righteousness, and should concentrate on your own short-comings rather than your delusional musings regarding these girls and their families.

  • Trish Ramirez

    More mormon jerks ruining good times for teenaged girls. These codes are never evenly enforced. Utah needs to come out of the 19th century and let teenagers be teenagers and have a good time.

    It’s getting beyond ridiculous.

    We’re talking some simple skin, the same skin people see when they go to the pool.

    Bare skin does not necessarily equal s e x.

    Parents need to step up and demand these archaic, misogynistic dress codes be repealed.

    I wonder how many girls that got turned out didn’t go to church with the girls that got let in.

    Absolute b s to ruin a teenagers homecoming over a couple inches of bare leg.

    These adults should be ashamed of themselves.

    And if I were these parents of girls being discriminated against, I would be getting together getting lawyers and demanding changes be made – this happens every single year.

    Some old busy bodies with nothing better to do than ruin kids’ fun.

  • Trish Ramirez

    Utah parents with common-sense and reason – we need to unite and demand that this state and its public institutions stop shaming our girls for being girls. We need to band together, start petitions, and do something about these gender-specific dress codes that single out females and make them feel ashamed simply for having bodies and not being inherently embarrassed. This is ridiculous. It needs to stop. This is about a group of religious busy bodies trying to constantly have their way and enforcing THEIR personal views of modesty and what is appropriate on other people’s children. The PARENT should have the final say as to what is appropriate attire for their child, not the state and certainly not the PTA or Relief Society. Some people are offended by bare shoulders and backs, some people are offended by CTR rings and WWJD t-shirts. If ALL students are not allowed to express their PERSONAL style and selves equally, we need to be sending them to school in secular and gender neutral uniforms. Is that what you thumpers would prefer? NO diversity at all just so you can have your own way???

    Probably.

    I remember a time when all school clubs were disbanded in a SLC district to prevent the LGBT alliance from having a club of their own.

    Never underestimate the fascism of militant mormons.

    • jojo

      Seriously Trish “some people are offended by CTR rings”? Oh yeah I can see how saying Choose the Right might be offensive (NOT). I’m sorry that you feel alienated by your Mormon neighbors but that’s not who made these decisions so stop using your bigotry to place blame. The boys had a dress code too and shockingly everyone of them followed it. Maybe you should be asking these girls why they feel the need to push the rule and even risk it. There is plenty of room for diversity in the dress code. Some of those dresses were so short that when the girls dance you can see their undies that is too short. And will everyone stop comparing this to cheerleaders outfits. That’s like comparing them to the swim team uniforms. those outfits are fine where intended but not dance appropriate either.

      • Linda

        JOJO – As a male, it’s much easier to find clothes befitting the archaic sensibilities of the school’s administrators (aka the new President). However, fashion dictates what is available for the girls to purchase and wear. They could always go to a “modest clothing” store and look like the Puritans who just landed at Plymouth Rock, or they can choose to look pretty and fashionable, and still be modest and dignified ‘good’ girls. Your statement reads like you’ve personally experienced seeing all these girls’ undies. Really?! FYI, JOJO, most of these girls wear shorts under their dresses to protect their privacy in case of an unforeseen mishap. You are just as judgmental as the Mormon bashers.

  • H.

    Yeh, what’s with the cheerleaders uniforms, they are too short and some of them show off more around the shorts then they should. It sounds to me as if the scool needs to stop acting hypocritical and be logical instead of shaming. Maybe school dances need too be taken to another location and sponsored by a business and parents rather then those who push religious values on everyone.

    • socalborn

      You’re totally right. I guarantee the schools make money off the tickets and don’t even spend all the money. Let a private company do it and let the parents decide what their children wear when they aren’t at school. I had the great pleasure of being able to attend a Utah high school dance and it was terrible. No exaggerating, they played country music the entire time and not once did they play a dance or pop song that yo could really dance to. The lights are as bright as can be and they are usually held during the day. There also seemed to be as many adults as there were kids. It was more like high school students being babysitted than going to a dance. They really are pointless. Thankfully I went to high school in California and Florida where you were really allowed to dance.

    • BRyon

      I am not Mormon, and I’m not a teacher. This whole situation is a perfect example of what is wrong with our county today. Kids don’t want to follow rules, they haven’t wanted to for centuries, but parents today are more concerned with supporting their children when they are wrong instead of helping them learn from their mistakes. I don’t have an opinion about the dress code one way or the other, but if the children know it (which they did) they made their own decisions when buying their dresses. Using the excuse that its the same dress code as past years and no one has cared, is shifting the blame. Thats like me getting pulled over for speeding and saying “I have been doing 80 in this 65 mile an hour zone for years” and expect to get away with it. It sounds like the standards have been in place for years, but no one has enforced them. Maybe thats the exact reason the new principle was brought in. Sounds to me like the kids had a great chance to learn a lesson and if parents had been parents instead of trying to be a friend, the kids could have learned that lesson. But this will trickle down to the next generation and they will be even worse and more entitled. God help us all.

      • Josh

        Thank you for this reply. They are my thoughts exactly but because I am mormon many would brush it off as being because of my religion where in fact it has to do with the fact that rules were in place and known to all including those who CHOSE not to follow them.

      • Heather

        Why is it that only Mormons are standards I am not. And I feel like kids should follow the rules and at a school function shouldn’t be allowed to run around half naked. Mid thigh is still short for a dress and your chest should be covered. But even if not they knew the rules and chose to ignore them they should be punished.

      • Minermom

        One more time, just to clarify, the girls knew the dress code and most supported it. It’s very clear. The girl in the purple dress was coded for length, as were many others. The code is mid thigh when sitting. Her dress went to her knees when sitting. The administration did not care. They enforced the codes the way they saw fit. 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. Because of the uproar from the students, today they are admitting to 50. People need to quit judging the girls, many met or exceeded the dress code, they were following the rules. It was the administration who behaved shamefully.

      • MM

        Did you actually look at these 3 dresses shown? Aside from ‘taste’ of the purple fluffy one there was nothing improper about any of these. Prior to the watching the video I read one of the dresses was ‘too low cut in the back’ and I was expecting to see something Angelina Jolie might wear – but NO, that red dress was very lady like and surprisingly proper. That was a sophisticated yet modest gown that must of cost her folks a fortune. I’m sure it didn’t occur to her or her parents that this would be considered risque. Nothing was hanging out, sagging, bouncing, the back didn’t plunge. This was not a case of girls saying FU rules! As for the other 2 I’d say it was more of a case of Dads looking at these girls who have womens bodies and saying ‘you turn me on get out’.

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