By Grace Wesoloski
Last week, during Frontier’s annual Spirit Week we ran into some controversy. Traditionally, the senior females have had the opportunity to participate in “Risky Business”, a costume that mimics the iconic scene in Risky Business where Tom Cruise dances in his underwear. This costume consists of a white button down long sleeve shirt, spandex, white tube socks, and sunglasses.
However, there is also a scene in this movie where a girl wears his white button-down shirt after an intimate encounter, and this led to our controversial issue. Because we are females, several Frontier teachers believed that we were dressing to mimic the latter scene, not the first more popular and entertaining scene. We were told that dressing this way would promote misogyny and that we would be sexualizing ourselves, something frowned upon. We found it controversial that our country is promoting us to express ourselves, yet we were being denied our First Amendment rights in our school.
Once we were told we would not be allowed to participate in the tradition this year, an email was drafted with the help of several fellow senior classmates and sent out to the entire Frontier faculty, asking for permission. With the help of Mr. Dredge, we were told that if we were granted permission by the majority of teachers, we would be allowed to participate in “Risky Business”. Below is the email that was sent out.
Dear Frontier Faculty,
I am writing to you today regarding the tradition of “Risky Business” during Spirit Week here at Frontier. I understand that there has been controversy over whether it is appropriate for us to wear a white long sleeve shirt, black shorts, white socks, and sunglasses.
Following the case Mergens v. Board of Education of the Westside Community Schools of 1990, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor said,
“High school students are mature enough and are likely to understand that a school does not endorse or support student speech that it merely permits on a nondiscriminatory basis.”
This means we are not allowed to discriminate against an occupation or way of life (prostitution) and we are not allowed to discriminate against the female population merely dressing up as the male character in this film. We are not sexualizing ourselves, we are standing up for our choice to wear what we please through the First Amendment and abiding by the Frontier Regional School dress code.
We ask that you hear us, and respond according to your beliefs on this topic, whether that be what is Constitutionally correct or what makes you comfortable. If you choose to discontinue this tradition next year it is out of our hands. But we ask you to allow us this privilege of our senior year Spirit Week, which we have been looking forward to.
Please do not find this message confrontational as it is hard to express emotion through email. I am acting as the voice for a lot of senior female students who were excited to partake in this event, thank you for any consideration and reply.
Following this email and the link attached to submit their opinion, we received 20 responses from Frontier faculty. Out of the 20, only two teaches said no to the tradition, and 18 said yes, our majority. On Tuesday, we wore our costume, everything went smoothly, and we felt empowered by the respect and trust shown to us by the teachers who took the time to read and respond to our email.