Two Colors Divided

Are the gender-specific graduation gown colors due for a change?


Theo, Marketing and Photography

Graduating from high school is a time of joy and celebration. Most high school graduation days are the same, except for one detail, cap and gown colors. At Seymour High School, girls wear white and boys wear purple, sitting in a checkered pattern. But is this tradition overdue for a change?

Out of 10 high schools in the surrounding area, only two separate the graduating class into two colors: Seymour and Trinity Lutheran. Seymour Seniors had opinions on this issue. Class President, Cory Robinson, personally likes the tradition, saying, “It’s one of those things that just works” and that he “doesn’t mind if someone wanted to wear the other color.”

For students who identify outside of the traditional gender norms, graduation colors can bring a form of anxiety. Wearing one color and being perceived as the wrong gender can cause unnecessary stress and dysphoria. Currently, students cannot choose which color they wear; it is based on the assigned gender in the Harmony system. Even if they had the choice to choose, many could not wear their preferred color due to not being out to their families, or not fitting in to the other gender norm.

Along with separate colors, Seymour sits the graduation class in a checkered pattern. This is determined by students randomly drawing their seat number based on the color. This poses a few problems. Students do not know whom they are sitting by and parents are left to wonder where their child is in the crowd. Numbers between those who wear white and purple are not even, which leaves some to sit in the back, disrupting the checkered pattern. Caley Monnier, a Seymour Scholar, said, “As a woman participating in the Seymour Scholar program, the enforcement of the checkerboard pattern further complicates our seating. Since there are at times more female Seymour Scholars than males, administration has had to put boys that have not completed the Seymour Scholar requirements in front of us in order to keep their alternating color pattern. To some of us women, the idea of men being put ahead of us when they have not gone through the work we have ultimately feels belittling.”

According to a local Brownstown source, the students wore red and white until 2017 when they switched to a unified black through the 2020 graduation. They switched to a unified red gown in 2021 and continue to wear red. For the BNL 2023 graduating class, this year will be the first year for all to wear navy blue.

Seymour High School: Girls: white, Boys: purple

Trinity: Girls: white, Boys: navy blue

Columbus East: brown

Columbus North: royal blue

Brownstown: red

Jennings County: royal blue

Floyd Central: green

New Albany: black

Jeffersonville: red

BNL: navy blue

Change is hard, but is that to say change is impossible. Schools around Seymour are progressing towards the future. Is it time for Seymour to change old traditions and be inclusive and unified?