South Carolina prom king's dress angers parents, but not their kids

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

Almost half of Adam Bell’s fellow high school students in Greenville, S.C., voted to crown him prom king last week. The openly gay senior, who loves fashion and makeup, knew his classmates and teachers wouldn’t be surprised to see him show up to the dance in a cropped Victoria’s Secret bustier and a green velvet skirt.

Did he expect any extra attention because of his choice of prom wear? “I didn’t because my school has been so supportive the whole time,” Bell told Fox Carolina. “They’ve seen it on a daily basis from me, so it was nothing new to them.”

In photos, you can see him posing happily with Powdersville High School administrators and teachers, the prom queen, and fellow students. He dances in his crown with a boy.

The photo has been deleted. (Photo: Facebook/PowdersvilleHighSchool)
The photo has been deleted. (Photo: Facebook/PowdersvilleHighSchool)

“Wearing a dress is like my version of dressing up, like most guys’ version is wearing a tux and mine is more feminine,” he told the local CBS affiliate WSPA.

This is not a story about a prom dress-code violation — his outfit didn’t violate any rules. It isn’t about his peers or the school system failing to support his fashion choices or even his sexuality. It’s about what happened after they all did support him. When the school posted photos from prom to its official Facebook page, the negative comments came flooding in. From parents.

“This young man/woman/it should be ashamed of this ludicrous behavior,” one comment said, according to North Carolina’s WCNC.

“My question to admin is he going to be allowed to use the restroom with these young girls,” wrote another woman.

There must have been worse comments too, but we don’t know what they were because the school district opted to take down the entire Powdersville High School Facebook page.

“This weekend Powdersville High School hosted its annual junior-senior prom,” Jane Harrison with Anderson District One told CBS affiliate WSPA. “Consistent with the school’s long-standing tradition, the students nominated and elected a prom king and queen. This year, the king and queen elected were Aston Irby and Adam Bell.”

Bell told WSPA that his classmates have stood by him through this social media storm. “[T]he kids were actually the ones standing up to the adults and being more supportive than ever,” Bell said. “I greatly appreciate all my friends and even people I haven’t even talked to at the school who were standing up to the adults and even their own parents who would comment.”

Bell follows in the footsteps of other high school students breaking down gender norms at prom. Last year, Adrian Santiago of Cidra, Puerto Rico, made headlines with his dazzling pink blazer-dress. This weekend, a gay couple in Georgia will attend their high school’s prom as part of the royal court after petitioning the school to make the honor gender neutral.

With prom behind him, Bell doesn’t intend to stop expressing himself freely at school events. He told Fox Carolina that he’ll be attending graduation in a dress too.

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