The End Of The Year Violin Recital Dress Code Debacle

This school year has been a shitty one and I really just want it to be over.

But, before that can happen we have a lot to get through. Two open houses. Three potlucks. A play. A class science experiment. A football game. A field trip. Oh, and a violin recital.

“I HAVE GOT to write a letter!” C.J. proclaimed as he slammed a piece of paper down on the table in front of me.

It was a flier for the violin recital. The top read “Performance Assembly and Parent Show Details.”

He pointed to the words of concern.

I wanted to bang my head on the table. At this point the school should know better than to send anything to my house that isn’t inclusive of the LGBTQ community or that enforces traditional gender norms and/or society’s expectations of “normal.” Because my son will reply with (in his opinion) a strongly worded letter.

“Are you sure you want to write a letter?” I asked. I was tired and not being as supportive of his advocate spirit as I should have been. Here’s why. I’ll admit it. The violin recital was the next evening and I really just wanted to attend as drama-free as possible. We’d have to see his bullies and their parents and it felt easier to me to just send the letter after the recital – or, hell, not at all. (We are SO CLOSE to the end of the school year.)

“Yes! Tonight!” he insisted. Then, he explained that days earlier, the music teacher was talking about the suggested attire and told the boys that they couldn’t wear blouses because blouses are for girls.

And, so, later that night we sat down and I put my fingers to the keyboard while he paced the room and dictated a letter to the music teacher and principal. (Somehow, over the last year, I’ve become his secretary. A good summer project will be bettering his typing skills.)

Here’s the final version of the letter he sent.

Dear Mrs. Principal and Mr. Music,

I was looking over the “Assembly and Parent Show Details” flier that was sent home for our violin concert.

When I got to the part about “Suggested Concert Attire,” I noticed something that upset me. It says “Boys, you know what would really make mom happy? Wear long pants instead of shorts.”

This upset me because some kids don’t have a mom. Their mom might have passed away or left them. Or, maybe their family never had a mom because they have two dads. Having two dads is okay. Any kind of family is okay, as long as you have someone who loves you.

Also, it implies that boys only wear shorts and don’t like to get dressed up or wear pants. That’s not true. I like to get dressed up. The flier could have just said no shorts for anyone.

A few weeks ago in class, you said to the class that boys couldn’t wear blouses during the violin performance because blouses are for girls. That’s not true or fair. Clothes are for everyone. Boys can wear blouses if they want. The dress code at our school even says that. Our school’s dress code is gender non-specific. And our state’s Safe School Laws and Title IX say that boys can wear blouses, skirts and dresses, just like girls can wear pants, shorts and polo shirts. People can wear anything to school they want as long as it’s appropriate and safe.

I hope you’ll change your flier for next year to be more considerate of different kinds of families and kids’ gender expression.

Thank you,

C.J. Duron, Fifth Grade

Although I initially had a lazy reaction influenced by avoidance, I went to bed that night proud of my son. When he sees (what he considers to be) a wrong, he wants it righted. Immediately.

The next evening he was in his room getting dressed for his violin recital, for which students were asked to wear white collared shirts.

C.J. had this shirt on.

From Target’s 2018 Pride collection. Available in sizes for kids and adults. I probably should have ironed it.

“That shirt isn’t white,” I said.

“I know. I don’t have a nice, collared white shirt. So I’m wearing this one. It makes a statement,” he said.

“It sure does,” I said. “You never fail to make a statement.”

And off we went, to listen to fifth grade violin novices play songs from The Greatest Showman for 30 minutes. (God rest my ears.)


About raisingmyrainbow is a blog about the adventures in raising a fabulous, gender creative son.
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21 Responses to The End Of The Year Violin Recital Dress Code Debacle

  1. I love that CJ’s letter is not just about why the flier is hurtful for him and kids like him, but that it covers a variety of other families and situations – kids who don’t live with moms, kids whose moms don’t get fussed about dressing up, boys who like to dress up, girls who don’t, and so on. What a thoughtful compassionate justice-seeking kid.

  2. Ellen Bekier says:

    Bravo to CJ for keeping the school on their toes. You must be so proud of CJ. He is following in your footsteps! Love the shirt! I hope the end of the school year is now completed probably this week and then hope the next school year is a much more positive one for CJ and your entire family!

  3. Tara says:

    C.J. is a role model for kids and ADULTS alike. I love his tireless spirit and his won’t-back-down attitude. He has made some excellent points that are inclusive of Everyone. Just as it should be. Keep up the inspiring work, C.J.!

  4. lsawyer713 says:

    Hi Lori,
    Where did you get this shirt for C.J.?
    We saw several people wearing this shirt at Boston pride and we love it and trying to find where to purchase one.
    Tell C.J. it’s a great shirt. 🙂

  5. Mike says:

    CJ never fails to amaze me, this time it is not about what to wear. The first thing he mention was his concern that some of the kids might not have Moms and that statement might hurt their feelings. He thinks of others first and then himself, what a great kid. One lucky Mom you are!

  6. mdaniels4 says:

    Well. He makes really good points! The school policy does say all attire is fine as long as it’s safe and appropriate. They could’ve just said no shorts instead of specifically calling out 5he boys. And yeah, some kids don’t have a mom. And even if 5hey do it’s very presumptuous to say ALL moms would be happy to see their little men in long pants. So there is that.

  7. Kitty says:

    I love you as a Mom and you are raising your child very well! My own birth Mother is very much anti gay and a racist. C.J. is a lovely child and I am so glad he has a support system there in place. 🙂

  8. Ed says:

    CJ I love that you stand up for what’s right. Never lose that spirit.

  9. THE LAST FLYER says:

    C.J. – “BRAVO ZULU”

  10. SM Johnson says:

    I hope C.J. develops an awesome friend group, but in the meantime I feel your exhaustion. I had hoped high school would be better than middle school, but so far this has not been the case. Struggling through the school year with a child who is miserable and has no safe place at school is agony. I love that C.J. is an such a terrific advocate!

  11. Well done both of you! Also, this is an good way to learn to touch type

  12. koolaidmoms says:

    What an awesome kid!

  13. Kathleen says:

    The shirt and the letter are amazing. Colin’s idea of “doing something” is venting to me. I’m working on this but his response is “I am doing something, I’m talking to you”. Next we’ll work on the concept of “useful” LOL. Passing you a cyber Advil!

  14. Dan Woog says:

    I’m a professional writer. I’ve published over a dozen books, and more than 8,000 blog posts. CJ’s words are better than anything I’ve ever written in my life!

  15. mactavish14 says:

    DUDE. CJ. I needed you as a friend 30 years ago. PS I wore pants to both my proms and shorts (that looked kinda like a skirt) to at least one of my choir concerts in high school 20 years ago. Now, I own two suits and can always feel like myself when I dress up.

  16. Louise says:

    LOVE!! CJ is amazing!

  17. How is it seeing his bullies and their parents, especially since you must’ve had a relationship before this (since she was his best friend for so long)? Although as a side note, just typing this, I completely understand if you’re not talking/writing about it because it would make it even more awkward. I’m so glad the school year is so close to being over, and go CJ for sticking up for himself and others! 🙂

    • Prior to the bullying, we communicated with the parents, but never became friends with them. I’d rather not see them and I’m aware when they are in the room. Mostly I ignore them and prefer they do the same.

  18. curioussteph says:

    Kids like C.J. give me hope for this tired world. Great shirt, too!

  19. swoolfor says:

    I must say, I admire his fighting spirit! And that shirt is pretty awesome, too!

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