Alberta principal vetos kilt at graduation

Hamish Jacobs is a graduating high-school student in Alberta, Canada. In deference to his Scottish heritage, he proposed to wear a kilt to the graduation ceremony, but the principal has rejected this proposal as being "inappropriate." Evidently, principal Mark Beazer is unfamiliar with the formal attire of other nations, and people in Scotland are up in arms over the issue.

Me, I say that school graduations should have the same dress-codes as science fiction conventions: "Wear anything you like, but remember, 'no costume is NO COSTUME.'" Provided you wear at least a modest cache-sexe or equivalent garment, you're clothed, and if you want to come as a superhero, a medieval blacksmith, a steampunk inventor, a tuxedoed gent, or a tentacled horror, that's great too.

Just remember: it's not a skirt. The last man what called it a skirt got kilt.

The issue has stirred up a whirlwind of debate, with Mr. Jacobs's story recounted in the Scottish Sunday Mail and on a Facebook page, launched by a family friend, that has attracted nearly 1,900 comments. One compares Mr. Jacobs's plight to that of an Ottawa high school student who had to fight to bring a gay partner to his Catholic prom. Another howls: "This is PUBLIC school not a MORMON one."

Another pledges to write human-rights authorities - Mr. Jacobs himself has told the school he believes his Charter rights are being violated in what his Facebook page calls an "unforgivable sin." Another suggests: "u should threaten them to go to the media. That will scare them coz they wont want the bad publicity."

No kilt at graduation, school tells Alberta teen (Thanks, Mom!)

(Image: Tennant Kilt, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from tineyho's photostream)


  1. Unfortunately, school principals seem to have specialist training in killing fun. Remember the prom girl? Or the male Prom Queen? Now kilts. Pretty soon, we’re gonna hear about a highschool banning graduation, because there was a rumour that a senior was planning on graduating at graduation.

    If it’s fun, kill it. If it isn’t, make it policy and paint it fun colours, then kill it.

  2. I know it’s not high school, but a woman graduated in April from my university wearing full storm trooper armour under her gown. She had to take the helmet off when they entered the auditorium. There was also a guy in a 3/4 length chain mail coat.

  3. I really don’t know where I stand on this (perhaps that’s a sign I shouldn’t comment – oh well).

    On the one hand I think it is completely unfair that he is not allowed to wear the kilt. I would be similarly outraged if I wasn’t allowed to wear my Kurta and Dhoti (both of which I wore to high school graduation). At University we HAD to wear “academic dress” which is essentially the robes and hat (forget the name). Under this I wore a suit and tie. I had the option of wearing my national dress and since this is fairly vague I suppose I could have worn anything that looked “formal” or exotic. I mean I am sure if I wore a t-shirt saying it was the “national dress” of my country I would have been thrown out. Anyway the dress code included the line “graduands whose clothes are considered unsuitable will be excluded from the ceremony.” I think this was a perfectly reasonable request on the part of the university. After all you would be in a room with hundreds of people who have vastly different cultural sensitivities and it is unfair for them to have to go through a terrible experience because you decided that Princess Leia’s gold bikini was your national dress.

    Anyway, on the other hand I think that the dude and his mum are blowing this out of proportion. Yes you were not allowed to do something and it is your national dress, but suck it up. It’s life, no matter what is “fair” or “unfair” sometimes you just don’t get what you want (or what is fair). Universities all have archaic rules (in Cambridge you are not allowed to walk on the grass) all of which can technically be challenged on grounds of “fairness” but is it really worth it? No. I do apologise if the guy is genuinely upset over this, but it seems to me as though he just wants his 15 minutes.

    1. “Suck it up”? Life ain’t fair, but that’s no reason to simply accept the unfairness. Where would things be if Lincoln or Dr. King had simply told folks to “Suck it up”? I realize there’s a serious difference between slavery vs dress code, but let’s not mistake a little thing for nothing.

    2. Why should someone graduating not wear what they want just because it might bother someone else? It is their graduation to make of what they want. If other people are bothered by that then they need to lighten up and accept that they don’t get to dictate how others choose to look. I personally find the Medievalist robes pretty silly, the context just isn’t there. You ask most kids graduating why they have to wear a robe and they have no clue, it’s just this scam to make them pay for an overpriced robe that they only wear once. I can see if you are getting a more advanced degree and may have reason to actually wear the robe again in the future, but that’s a whole other topic.

      I dressed up as a cowboy for my college graduation. My outfit was tame compared to many. I’ll never forget the kid who wore nothing but flip-flops, tighty-whities, and aviator glasses. Dude had balls.

    3. If everyone chose to “suck it up” (one expression I’d very much like to see put to rest, by the way) in response to an unfair situation then both of our countries would still be British colonies.

  4. Clan Ferguson sides with the lad. Wha’s like us? Damn few and they’re a’ deid.

  5. Anyone else think the guy looks like the last Doctor Who?

    I miss my Fiji days when I could wear a sulu (another male skirt) to business meetings …

    1. Don’t be silly, his name is John Smith. It was on this very important identification he showed me.

    2. That is the last Doctor Who, David Tennant is a proud Scot.

      The way I see it, this young man is named Hammish, and in this day and age I can only imagine the guff he has taken for that fine and proud name. My cousin Seamus and Conchar deal with oodles of abuse. They both wear their tartans loudly and proudly.

      Cause a good kilt, is a LOUD kilt. ;)

    3. My god he is such a sexy sexy man a proud Scott and my favorite doctor and there is not a thing wrong with that

  6. As a heterosexual woman, I support any excuse to see men in kilts. ;)

    (And, thank you for once again giving me an excuse to dwell on that picture of David Tennant in a kilt. It never gets old. *blissful sigh*)

  7. I wore a kilt to my high school prom 12 years ago. Of course, I wasn’t foolish enough to ask the principal if it was OK first.

  8. Why would it occur to the kid that he would even have to ask? Just show up to graduation wearing the kilt. Minimize your exposure to potential asshats, such as that HS principal. If confronted at the graduation, offer to let them find out if you’re a True Scotsman ;)

  9. The bloody Prince of Wales wears a kilt to official functions. If it’s good enough for Chuck, it ought to be good enough for Alberta, provided his family actually does have ancestry that includes a kilt, and he’s not just wearing it to be a wiseguy.

    1. This is exactly what I was thinking. The dang prince of our dang country (well, of Canada is what I mean which is my country and the country this is in) wears a kilt and it’s not good enough for some pennyante high school grad ceremony?

  10. The problem stems from the fact that the Lethbridge area of our fair province is dominated by recent arrivals of the magic underpants persuasion. These folks don’t have any sense of Canadian history. The Scots built this friggin’ country!

  11. Remember that this is a high school, not a university. High schools (and elementary schools) are primarily day-jails for kids. You do what the warden says, and the warden doesn’t care what the kids do to each other, as long as it doesn’t spill out into the streets.

  12. I own a formal kilt,which btw costs more than a tux. I also wear kilts as soon as the outside temp hits 50F. They are comfy and my wife enjoys them almost as much as myself.

    I say F@@k em and wear it to graduation anyway, unless you are wearing a sign dubh what are they going to do ab out it short of assaulting you in an attempt to make him leave?

    1. “I also wear kilts as soon as the outside temp hits 50F.”

      Why the cut-off on temperature? If you’re wearing the full high wool stockings with rolled tops (socks/hose), you should have no problem well into the temperatures below 0°C.

      If you’re going to wear your kilt for Gung Haggis Fat Choy (that most Canadian of celebrations!) then you’re going to have kilts below freezing.

  13. I saw some guys wearing kilts at a wedding at the state capitol. Kilts are men’s clothing. What’s the problem? Hell, if a transgender girl student with a Y chromosome wants to wear a dress to graduation, what’s the problem?

    Will a cap and gown be worn at the graduation ceremony? If so then the solution is very simple: A kilt on top and fake trouser legs showing below the hem line of the gown.

  14. Unba unba unbelievable.

    @3 If he was blowing it out of proportion, it might not have received as much attention as it has – the ban is so senseless (kilts can be acceptable formal wear!) that the stoopid is apparent at a glance.

    Semi-OT – this kilt pic moved me – I’ll leave it at that. (Originally from here – posted the link to my gank so folks wouldn’t need to scroll.)

  15. Schools like this expose the hypocrisy of post-modern education:

    “Everybody’s different and that makes the world more interesting and awesome; but try to be the same as everybody else or authority figures will make your life needlessly difficult.”

    It’s bullshit. Drop out and get a life. :D

  16. I do wonder what’s with these kids, their perfectly reasonable end-of-the-year-ceremony ideas, and their sudden need to ask the principals’ permission first. Mr Beeswax, your 9:30 is here. “Oh, hullo Susan.” “Yes, well, hello Mr Beeswax. I was just thinking I might wear a rather complimentary, but not necessarily *matching*, set of patterns on Thursday. Do you think that might be okay? I brought swatches.”
    Seriously, though, if we’re going from lesbians to kilts, is the next stop the banning of prom royalty thanks to an anti-monarchy platform? Not that I’m a huge supporter of prom royalty, but puh-lease.

  17. This is just plain bizarre. It’s a proper outfit that looks as formal as a tux or suit — if not more so.

    In BC, it seems very common for kids with Scottish ancestry to wear kilts to their graduation. In my town, at least, there was usually one every other year.

  18. Strange that this is controversial in Canada. I had a friend who did military service in that country, and he told me his particular regiment (officially) wore kilts…

  19. It was a School Board official that wore a kilt to my graduation. I thought you needed education to become a principal?

  20. Weird. I’m just about to put on my kilt and head to work. Some head honchos of the RSCDS are coming to our Scottish Country Dance class tonight; want to look nice for them!

  21. I don’t see the problem. At our HS graduation, my friends and I wore exactly nothing under our robes. Not a stitch.
    Unlike the gentleman in question, we were not foolish enough to ask our crypto-fascist principal for permission.
    It is always easier to ask forgiveness than permission.
    We did neither.

  22. That’s just really dumb. Pretty much every official military or RCMP parade I see (in Ottawa) features entire regiments with kilts and bagpipes. It’s as formal and relevant an attire as it gets for a Canadian.

    Frankly, if I were in that guy’s neighbourhood, this would probably be a strong indication not to send my kid to that school. Sounds like they don’t even have a basic grip (or respect) on history.

  23. Another example of social-cultural limitations on male behavior. Amazing that in this era of global info his school principal is against formal dress from another country.

  24. I have been wearing the kilt since I could walk, my family was active in the Scottish-American society, Scottish games, etc. I wore one to my graduation and prom in 2000, and I didn’t have any trouble, and this was in extremely conservative Oklahoma. I have never had anyone give me any hell for it, I’m gay and in my experience some guys dig it, I get lots of compliments. I have a few kilts that I wear regularly (even in winter with wool rolled top stockings).

    I do want to try to put something to rest here. Everyone I know who wears the kilt wears underwear. IMHO, there is no basis for the “true scotsman” bullshit. I wear tighty-whities and boxers under mine, and I’ve never exposed myself to anyone. My biggest problem right now is keeping them up after losing 30 pounds over the last 3 months.

  25. Reading the article, it seems to me like the kid was deliberately trying to create a fuss.

    I don’t care if people wear kilts, but this is the classic tempest in a teapot. And just the thing to get people in Alberta all het up about evil teachers oppressing the rights of right minded people everywhere – not long before their contracts come up for renewal.

    Meanwhile, the Alberta government continues squandering one of the richest resource bases on the planet to almost zero benefit for the residents of Alberta. Their health system continues to starve, teachers leave the province in droves.


  26. I didn’t realize you needed permission to wear clothes for graduation. Why not show up in traditional garb regardless, will they prevent someone from participating in the ceremony if they wore a dohti kurta or a young muslim woman wore a hijab?

    1. This is Southern Alberta you are talking about. How do you think they would respond if someone showed up in a hijab?

  27. Um…don’t they wear cap and gown to graduation? If so, no one would see the kilt anyway.

    They did say he could wear it to the graduation dinner.

    I guess I don’t see what the problem is.

  28. “Wear anything you like, but remember, ‘no costume is NO COSTUME.'”

    At my current institute of higher learning, this would label you a prude. Don’t think anyone wore their birthday suit this year, but it’s acceptable. Tribal warriors, giant chickens, cowboys, tight shiny black leather… all par for the course. Makes graduation, you know, a fun and exciting event… dare I say, a celebration.

  29. Here in Cape Breton, along with the rest of Nova Scotia, it is very common for the men graduating from high school to wear a kilt. About 15-20% of my graduating class was in their clan colors.

  30. I support the idea of wearing traditional dress to graduation, however, if you ask permission, you must be aware that no is one of the possible answers.
    He probably shouldn’t have asked, since I don’t see that it’s any of the school’s business (provided he’s following mandatory cap and gown rules, etc), but once asked, he should abide by the decision. Otherwise, he’s not really asking. Not getting the answer you were hoping for is just part of life.

  31. … okay, as a Scot-blooded Albertan, I was beating my head against my desk with frustration over this, but then I clicked on the main link, and discovered that the student, school, and principal in question live in a particular town a stone’s throw from my own city. After that revelation of specific location, I wish I could say that I was surprised.

  32. Strange, I’ve always been under the impression that kilts were an allowable cultural variation of formalwear.

  33. People wear these to meet the *Queen.* In what alternate universe is anything that’s Queen-meeting approved inappropriate?

  34. I never really understood kilts until I lived in Scotland. But once you see them everywhere at formal occasions, you suddenly understand how awesome they are.

  35. In what way is a kilt not a skirt? It’s remarkably similar to the skirts the men of Greece and Rome wore, except that it happens to be better decorated.

    1. If you’re talking about what the Evzones wear at Syntagma, those are kilts. Kilts are distinguished from skirts by their pleats. I don’t know what Roman garment you’re referring to. Male citizens wore togas, otherwise tunics or breeches.

  36. In defense of the apparently threatened race of actually intelligent High School principals, ours let us have Swing dancing on stage at a quite conservative Protestant school. He copped a lot of flak, and they weren’t allowed to do aerials (from memory), but Swing was really big that year at our school and it meant a lot to us. And compared to what you could see every day on MTV (or even at the public high school 15 mins drive East), it was nothing.

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