Love this post by Emily Rosenbaum about how “School Spirit Week” is celebrated in her children’s elementary school. Each day has a theme including (wait for it)….Princess Day on which girls are supposed to dress in glitter and tiaras. As are the boys, if they want to, are too–but not because it’s okay for a boy to dress like a princess, exactly the opposite: it’s clear the boys are supposed to be doing it as a goof, with a wink and a homophobic nudge.
“It’s making the point (rather strongly) that there are things for girls and things for boys and the only times we break through those barriers is to laugh about it. In other words, rather than making a safe space in which the boys can express themselves, it’s laying down the gender norms even more clearly. Sure, kid, dress as a princess; it’ll be a hoot.
It’s not a hoot. Not for the boys who are uncomfortable with their sexuality or gender. Not for the boys who lack self-confidence and can’t pull off a joke like that. Not for the boys who, a few years from now, will find themselves in tears when their peers taunt them with “faggot.” Not for the boys who don’t participate that day because they don’t feel comfortable with the joke or for the boys who participate only to fit in. Not for the girls who are shoved into the role of flighty consumers.”
And not for this boy, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, a 6th grader who hung himself in 2009 after being repeatedly taunted at his new school for being “gay.” What would he have done on Princess Day?
As Emily pointed out, her children’s school could have had Royal Day, or a fantasy day, or a dress-like-a-character-from-a-book day. There are so many possibilities for fun, for creativity, for costume in an elementary school. But Princess day? Really?
What do you think? And any advice for Emily?