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A Nashville senior was banned from prom for a suit, so a local business stepped in

Hayes stood outside of the prom holding a sign that read, "they wouldn't let me in because i'm in a suit."
B Hayes
Hayes stood outside of the prom holding a sign that read, "they wouldn't let me in because i'm in a suit."

A student denied entry to their Nashville high school prom is getting another chance to take part in the annual tradition thanks to their community.

B Hayes, an 18-year-old student at Nashville Christian School, was banned from going to their prom because they wore a suit and not a dress.

In a photo posted on Instagram over the weekend, Hayes stood outside of the facility holding a sign that read, "they wouldn't let me in because i'm in a suit."

Hayes wrote in the caption, "i should not have to conform to femininity to attend my senior prom. i will not compromise who i am to fit in a box. who are you to tell us what it means to be a woman?"

Nashville Christian School told NPR in a statement that it "has established dress requirements for daily school attendance and at our special events. All students and families are aware of and sign an agreement to these guidelines when they enroll."

The school said its "expectations regarding appropriate prom attire were communicated to this student and the student's family in advance of the prom. While we certainly respect a student's right to disagree, all of our students know from our school handbook that when they do not follow such expectations at school-sponsored events, they may be asked to leave."

In just a day, Hayes' post blew up and got on the radar of Nashville business owner and local mom Marcie Allen Van Mol.

"It just really upset me that this child was not allowed to attend their prom because they weren't wearing a dress. It is that simple of an issue. And it's not OK," Van Mol said of hearing Hayes' story.

She and her husband Derek Van Mol own AB Hillsboro Village, a live music and event space in the city.

"When we saw this we felt that it was really important to step up and use our platform to create a safe place for B to celebrate their prom," Van Mol said.

A second prom plan gets going

Marcie Allen Van Mol and Derek Van Mol outside of their live music venue, AB Hillsboro Village.
/ Mary Craven Photography
/
Mary Craven Photography
Marcie Allen Van Mol and Derek Van Mol outside of their live music venue, AB Hillsboro Village.

She was able to quickly get in touch with the student and asked: What if AB puts on a prom just for Hayes?

With their approval, Van Mol got the ball rolling.

She put a call out on social media for anyone looking to help. The idea "spread like wildfire," she said.

"My inbox exploded, I mean, just exploded. Everyone wants to help. And everyone wants to make sure that these students and children in Nashville feel safe and included," she said.

Local businesses have reached out to provide services for the event, including a photo booth and flowers. R&B musician Tone Stith is set to put on a private performance as well.

To help fund the evening, a GoFundMe account was also created by Allison Holley, the owner of Nashville's Apple & Oak. Any additional money donated in response to this effort is going to be given to Inclusion Tennessee and Oasis Center, two charities of Hayes' choosing.

And next month, Hayes and 25 of their friends will be getting their own private prom.

In a text to NPR, Hayes said, "I greatly appreciate the support from my city and my community. The love I have been shown by my friends and family will not be taken lightly."

They added, "I just ask that during this time I have the privacy to enjoy the rest of my senior year. I would also like for this attention to shift towards those who have experienced similar situation's, you are not alone and there are people in this world who will stand with you. I want to spread positivity and help others grow through this process. Thank you all so much for the love you show me!"

Van Mol also hopes this moment will go on to spread kindness and positivity.

She said, "It's just a little thing that we hope will go a long way and will inspire other communities across the country to say there is still good in the world."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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