DEXTER, NY — The General Brown Central School District’s Class of 2020 graduation ceremony will be a sea of blue in June when all graduates will wear blue graduation gowns.
As part of its efforts to be an inclusive school community for all students, the district will no longer designate different color graduation gowns based on gender identification.
“This move follows guidance from the New York State Education Department on steps a district can take to develop an inclusive environment, which is an area we have been focusing on since last year when the board of education approved the district’s new strategic plan,” Superintendent Barbara Case said.
The state previously recommended that school districts eliminate any gender-based policies, rules and practices that do not serve a clear pedagogical purpose.
While there have been some years in which all GB graduates wore blue gowns (from 2009-2013), traditionally, students could choose white or blue gowns, with white designated for female students and blue designated for male students.
“It was brought to our attention during a staff development day in the fall that this practice could be detrimental for any students questioning their gender identity,” said GB Junior-Senior High School Principal Nicole Donaldson. “We recognize that some students are upset that they did not have a choice in gown color this year; however, we feel this change better aligns the district with inclusive practices recommended by the state as well as the district’s 2019-22 Strategic Plan.”
One of the goals within the district’s plan focuses on school culture and community and promoting an inclusive teaching and learning environment that is socially, emotionally and physically safe.