Knox High School Principal Responds to Prom Dress Code Criticism


A dress code for those attending the Knox High School prom has been drawing criticism from some students and community members. Among the eight guidelines listed for girls’ clothing, are the requirements “Formal Long Dresses,” and “No cleavage, no flesh touching flesh.” Meanwhile, the dress code for boys simply states, “Tuxedos/Suits.”

Knox High School Principal Dr. Elizabeth Ratliff says this year’s dress code was made in response to some of the attire seen at last year’s prom. “We did have, last year, a couple of prom dresses that came in with very exposed skin that were not really appropriate for high school,” she says. “Above all, our students completely complied with the dress code, but there is a couple of new dresses out that basically would not be appropriate for a high school prom. They look like they are lace. They’re completely see-through. And our prom group with our high school felt that we needed to have appropriate dresses.”

She says there have been a few changes and clarifications since the dress code was first given to students, “The high school has always allowed short dresses and we have always had a very stringent dress code at prom. What we did was this year they did put [on] a board outside [the office]. Students can wear short dresses, they can wear pants suits. Ladies can wear long dresses also. We’ve met with multiple parents that had a question; we have dealt with those. And that is pretty consistent to the other proms that we’ve had.”

Ratliff says students are excited about the prom, and that many of the comments seen online don’t match up with what she’s been hearing, “I still have not been able to know if there is a student in school or if this is just something from the community at large. And our parents are very careful to be sure that they send students in school-appropriate prom dresses, and I congratulate them for taking such care to make sure that their students are appropriately dressed. And I would say almost all of our students, that has not been an issue at all.”

She says that photos of approved prom attire have been posted outside the high school office for over a month, and that there are plenty of beautiful dresses that are included. Ratliff says those who complain that the dress code focuses too much on women’s bodies rather than the clothing itself haven’t been in the school to see the variety of clothing that would be allowed.