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Students protest prom dress code: It's 'discriminating and insulting'

It's the latest prom dress code to spark controversy.
A Hawaii student is protesting her school's "absurd" prom dress guidelines.
\"It is already difficult to find the prom dress we want and in our price range, but these restrictions make it even harder for us.\"Getty Images stock
/ Source: TODAY

When it comes to prom dresses, how revealing is too revealing?

Annie Funaki, a student at Kauai High School in Lihue, Hawaii, started an online petition to protest her school’s prom dress code, which she called “discriminating and insulting.”

According to the petition, which is addressed to the school's leaders as well as the U.S. Department of Education, Kauai's prom dress code currently prohibits backless and off-the-shoulder dresses, along with gowns showing “excessive cleavage,” or with slits revealing the upper thighs. Dresses exposing the midriff are also not allowed.

Funaki spoke out against what she called these “highly conservative standards.”

“This is 2018, where we are told to be confident in our body,” she wrote, “but then you create these restrictions that discriminate us and hypersexualize us to the point that we cannot feel comfortable without the assumption that we are being ‘provocative.’”

Funaki’s petition had reached more than 430 signatures of its 500-signature goal as of press time. It’s not possible to tell how many of the people who signed are connected to the school.

Another student, Makenna Domingo, took to Twitter to protest the dress restrictions. She posted a picture of a sign that went up recently in the school, showing the types of gowns not allowed at the upcoming junior-senior prom on April 14.

Meanwhile, Anne Kane, the principal of Kauai High School, defended the school’s prom dress guidelines.

“Much like businesses and organizations that require dress codes for various purposes, our high school students must adhere to dress codes for their safety, respect for themselves and others, as well as respect for the hotel venue guests and employees,” Kane said in an email statement to TODAY Style. “This is not to imply that all students will dress inappropriately. Simply put, rules and guidelines must be in place.”

Kane added that the dress code is “somewhat lenient” as compared to other high schools in the region, and that not everyone at Kauai High School has a problem with the prom rules.

“There have been many recent discussions among our students, teachers and parents, and many of those discussions prove that not everyone is in favor of this petition," she said.

Kane also seemed to criticize the way in which some students have spoken out against the dress code.

“Student voice undoubtedly matters in our schools,” she told TODAY. “However, student voice would be valued and highly supported if they are proactive in planning and decision-making, backed up by informed and ‘accurate’ research, facts, and solutions as opposed to reacting emotionally and irrationally.”

In the petition, Funaki said she and her fellow students are "not asking for the dress code to be fully abolished," but just modified.

Prom dress shopping is hard enough, she said, and these rules only make it harder for students to find something they can wear in their price range.

“We ask you to please read this and hear our voice, as we try to make a change in something that should not have been done in the first place,” Funaki said. “And trust our judgment in representing ourselves and this school.”