Around New England

Regional Annual High School Ball To Allow All Same-Sex Couples, and Anyone Can Wear A Dress

February 7, 2019

An 80-year-old regional dance for high school girls and their dates in southwestern Connecticut will start allowing all-male same-sex couples next year and will remove the requirement that boys wear a tuxedo.

The annual County Assembly Charity Ball — known as “the Counties” — has traditionally been for high school junior girls and their escorts. That has traditionally meant that a girl has gone to the dance with a boy.

Organizers have been allowing girls to bring another girl, but had not been allowing boys to go with another boy. No one is allowed to go unaccompanied by an escort.

“We have welcomed same-sex female couples for years and value their participation in our events. We now wholeheartedly welcome all same-sex couples,” organizers said in an email message this week, according to the New Haven Register.

Up until now, girls have been allowed to wear either a dress or a tuxedo, while boys have been required to wear a tuxedo.

The story quotes a teacher at Staples High School in Westport as saying that students had begun to “agitate” for a change in the policy.

“The Counties was certainly gender normative. There was always a sense of exclusion, and I think that’s why they felt so strongly about it,” the Spanish and Mandarin teacher said, according to the New Haven Register.

The ball is run by The Counties Assembly Inc., founded in 1938. The purpose, the organization told The New Haven Register, is “creating space for girls to feel comfortable and empowered to take a leading social role and independently ask an escort to accompany them to this event, in the hopes of furthering the equality of power in these relationships.”

The change in policy is effective in 2020. The most recent ball took place Saturday, February 2.

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