SPANISH FORK, Utah (KUTV) — Students who attend a charter school in Spanish Fork said around 60 students were not allowed into their homecoming dance over the dress code, a claim the school later refuted.
Natalia and Isabella are seniors at American Leadership Academy, which hosted the dance Saturday night. Both girls were not allowed in the dance due to their dresses.
The classmates feel strongly, however, that the administration crossed a line while enforcing the dress code and body-shamed many of the girls.
Initially, Isabella was allowed to enter the dance but was asked to leave over concerns of the length of her dress, which she and her parents felt was modest.
“I was mad that I got kicked out of the dance, but I felt sad and I felt bad for the other girls that had got kicked out. They had their dresses pre-approved by the administration, but when they showed up, they were told that because their body was not the same as the picture of the model, they were not allowed to wear that dress,” Isabella said.
Natalia, who was the school’s homecoming queen, was never allowed to enter the dance. She told 2News that she felt her dress followed the school’s guidelines.
“They changed it just this year where we can actually have spaghetti straps now, so I decided to get one of those,” she said. “But I guess it was more than that, because my dress was perfectly fine."
Natalia’s dad, Nathan Burton, said it was disappointing to hear so many students were not allowed in. He said there were many parents speaking out about their daughter’s experiences of being left out of the dance.
“I understand rules, guidelines — but they should have been a little more careful with it,” he said.
Because so many students missed their senior year homecoming, Burton said he and other parents are planning another dance for the students.
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“I'm not trying to cause any problems, but I do think the children, after years of COVID and just a total mess of high school, they deserve to have a dance,” he said. “We have some good venues in this area and all the people we need to do a spectacular homecoming dance. Maybe the most memorable will be last night but we're gonna do a good one for them.”
The girls have planned a protest outside the school at 7:30 a.m. on Monday.
“For our administrators to say they want to provide us a safe place at school, and then to go tell us that we can't wear a dress because of the way our body looks, it's really hypocritical," Isabella said.
After she was told she couldn’t enter the dance, Natalia said she tried to move it to the parking lot and then another location on campus. She said administrators wouldn’t allow it and threatened to fine her.
“While all that was happening, more and more girls, they started showing up but they couldn't enter the dance. It was just so sad to see,” she said.
The school’s dress code is outlined on the American Leadership Academy website. The girls hope miscommunications with the dress code, and what they see as hurtful wording in the policy addressing body types, can be sorted out before the next formal dance at the school.