Really? Teen Banned From Prom Because She Doesn’t Have A Date

April 26, 2012  |  

Most high schools get a little antsy around Prom time and come up with all sorts of rules about what girls can wear, how close you can dance, what time the dance ends, and so on and so forth, but Archbishop John Carroll High School has one of the oddest rules I’ve ever seen—you must have a date.

That’s right, no date equals no prom and because of that rule, 17-year-old Amanda Dougherty who attends the Glenoldon, PA, school has been informed that she is not allowed to attend the dance tomorrow. The archdiocese in charge of her school hasn’t commented on her specific situation but they did release a statement, saying in part:

“The prom is an exciting event for students in all of our Archdiocesan high schools. Unfortunately, not all students are able to attend. We can’t address specific issues with specific students but there are various reasons that a student would not be able to attend. Not having a date is one example. Our high schools offer numerous dances and events throughout the year where dates are not required, but we view the prom as a special social event where a date is required to attend.”

Amanda is understandably upset for a number of reasons. The first being the pure stupidity of the rule.

“For them to say not that we’re not good enough to go unless we have a guy standing next to us, it’s just kind of sickening,” she told CBS News.

The teen is also upset because she’s already spent nearly $1,000 on the event, from the dress she started looking for around Christmas, to her shoes, flowers, and the $95 prom ticket. Not to mention, she was only planning to go to prom alone after her date bailed on her at the last minute.

The Global Christian Post points out one commentor’s thoughts about what this decision teaches kids about “social norms.” Lena Maureen reportedly wrote on The Huffington Post:

“Prom is an occasion where a date is required. If everyone started coming without a date, it would just be a dress up school dance. It’s a learning experience too – how to go about socializing with a partner. If everyone stood around without a date, then it would not be ‘prom like,’

“Kids need to learn that there are social norms and rules that should be followed, this is why our kids think that they should be able to do anything they want. It does not cut it in the real world, they get fired and cannot understand why…..even though they fought the companies rules.”

Riiiight because it’s that deep. That woman goes on to suggest Amanda take her father or brother to the dance with her if she really wants to go that bad—um, sorry there’s nothing “normal” about a male family member being your date for prom either. That’s called a father-daughter dance.

Having gone to a catholic high school, I would think the archdiocese would be happier that a girl was attending alone so there was less opportunity for sinning but I guess times have changes since I was rocking plaid skirts and knee socks to class.

What do you think about this prom date rule?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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  • Lalatarea

    sooo we want to teach our young girls that they aren’t worthy of anything if they don’t have a man by their side? see this is why we have young girls like that 13 yr old sucking d.i.c.k. to “win” her befriend back, she doesn’t realize how special SHE is and that she doesn’t need validation from some guy. WOW if these are the social norms ism glad to say iam abnormal. ugh

  • LeeLee

    My school viewed prom as a social event held at the end of the year for upperclassmen…

  • Mumsy

    “For them to say not that we’re not good enough to go unless we have a guy standing next to us, it’s just kind of sickening,”

    I have issues with this claim since this rule applies to every student attending a Philadelphia archdiocesan school regardless of gender, race, income etc.  As a parent in this disctrict, I know this isn’t the first time this situtation has occurred. Usually there is no ban, the child is given the option of a ticket refund or extended time to find a new escort. I suspect this child wants an exception to the rules that all the other students follow.

    • Bshaleena

      ……Wow.  I wonder how many girls are doing drastic things to get dates for their prom.  

  • She should show up with a female date – that’d really give them a reason to quiver. This is ridiculous!

  • L-Boogie

    This is sad.  If I could do it over again I would of gone with a group of friends and danced my butt of with the young men of my choice.  My boyfriend at the time did not dance with me at all that night. 

    • jade

      He didn’t dance with you!!! How sad=( sorry to hear that…. I wuda personnally dragged him with me or else

  • FromUR2UB

    This ranks among the most idiotic and insensitve rules I’ve ever heard.  There have alway been people who attended proms stag, for one reason or another.  But they wanted memories of a special event too, even if they weren’t able to share it with someone.

    I would not want a daughter of mine, to attend a school that encourages them not to live their lives, if they happen to be dateless.   Dress codes, rules of conduct are fine.  But, what if this were a case where she couldn’t get a date?  Imagine how cruel it would be to deny her the opportunity to enjoy a significant event in her youth, because no one accompanied her.  Then, they tell her, “Bring your dad”?  Now, they’re really getting into her business!!  I guess if she’s not on good terms with her father, now is a good time to throw that in her face too.

  • RedButterfly81

    I went to the prom with my 2 BFFs and had more fun with them. My mom told me she rather for me to hang with my friends than a date because I might end up pregnant at 17 or 18, LBVS!


    Maybe I’m read too deeply into this, but i’m reading a lot of coded language in the school’s statement and the comment in the Global Christian post. I wonder, do the dates need to be pre-approved?  What are the “special” reasons that the school is referring to? here is the quote:
    “We can’t address specific issues with specific students but there are various reasons that a student would not be able to attend. Not having a date is one example.”

    I wonder if this is a way to control potentially “questionable” prom dating (same sex, interracial, etc).  The comments just seem odd to me…

    • Mumsy

      Yep, no same sex dating at school events although interracial dating is fine. Also, too many discipline infractions, poor grades and a host of other rules violations can get you banned from the prom. No school, public or private, can comment on a student’s personal issues to the press.

  • LotusLeader

    I noticed the school did not explain the reason for this decision.   It seems no one knows why this decision was made.   This is why the decision is stupid.

  • Then the school should be held responsible for all of her expenses. The “norm” for prom is boys expecting to get laid after taking a girl to a dance. I would prefer my daughter to go alone than for her to go with a guy who thinks she owes him!!! Prom should be about having fun with your friends, it’s the last school dance ever, and there should never be a requirement to have a date. There are more important things to worry about such as making sure the kids don’t act like hoochie mommas or get pregnant.

  • for both my school’s junior and senior prom, I went sans date, and I definitely had a better time than everyone I knew that had dates.

    • I know that’s right my boyfriend didn’t want to go both yrs at all so I got fly with my girls and we had a ball. Promise you showed up and everybody that had a date was ready to ditch them after they too their pic!

  • RedButterfly81

    This is why I’m blessed I didn’t go to a Catholic school. Prom ain’t about having a damn date, it’s about having fun with your friends and classmates and reflecting on that special night. Prom supposed to be fun!

    • KamJos

      I went to Catholic school and never was there any dance that absolutely required a date.  So it has nothing to do with the school being Catholic. I actually find it ultra weird that a Catholic school would do that. 

  • Wow! This is so insulting and ridiculous and for the school to dig in their heels on this issue is insane. If we want to talk about “social norms,” and “lessons learned,” let’s talk about the important lesson young people learn when they have to make the best of a difficult situation (such as people not living up to expectations). Or if we’re talking about the how young people need to learn how to socialize with dates, let’s not forget prom — like many other special events for which people get dressed up for — frequently call for dates to interact with others as part of the event. In some instances taking a male relative as a date can be acceptable, but it shouldn’t be the cost of admission with the alternative being nonparticipation. Let’s also talk about the lesson people learn that when things don’t go the way they wanted to planned, there’s still some value in participation as best you can under the circumstances. These all to seem more valuable than the lesson that one has to have a date to participate. 

  • Wow, I would think that a school would praise a student for not fighting, not being pregnant, not on drugs, etc. Instead she gets banned from the prom for not having a date? Really? What exactly is that teaching her? That she will be considered an outcast throughout life unless she’s hanging on some man’s arm during a “social event”? Why not teach her to be independent, to love herself and be a trendsetter? I say go to the prom sweetheart, enjoy yourself by yourself. 

  • BlackNGreen

    I would demand back every last dime, poor girl.

  • BxBabe

    Truly stupid on the school’s part…let her go and have fun!

  • Waston

    I can’t believe this school would do something like this. This is not fair. I hope the parents can fight this mess. A teen should be able to go to their prom, its one of the most memorable moments in a teens life. I went to a catholic high school and for my senior prom I went without a date. These schools come up with the most ridiculous nonsense. She paid so much money for a dress to be told last minute that she can’t go? Let her go and enjoy herself at the prom.