Richmond Public Schools implements gender neutral graduation robes

Richmond Public Schools implements gender neutral graduation robes

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - If you’ve attended a Richmond Public School graduation this year, you may have noticed something different at this year’s ceremony.

Students walked down the aisle with their diplomas as one unified student body – both in their accomplishments and their gowns.

“George Whythe [high school] had navy blue, Huguenot [high school] had green,” RPS Superintendent Jason Kamras said. "I want RPS to be a school system where every child, every staff member, every family member – whoever they are, however they identify, no matter what – feels welcome and loved.”

Kamras said the change was made with transgender and non-binary students in mind.

Ted Lewis, of LGBTQ support organization Side by Side, said it’s a shift in the right direction.

He says that while this visual change is supported by the LGBTQ community, the significance of the day for the students is heightened.

“A lot of people didn’t understand why we had different gowns for men and women, and now it really feels like a celebration of the graduates and what they’ve accomplished,” Lewis said.

Chesterfield County Schools also adopted gender neutral graduation garb, with all students donning red robes last week for Matoaca High School’s ceremony last week.

A representative for Henrico Schools said it is in the process of perhaps implementing the change for the class of 2020.

“We’ve met with students and parents to get some early feedback of going to one color," the representative said. “It does appear to us that there is growing support to move to a single color in 2020.”

“I think this is the right direction to go for our kids, and so I’m excited to keep moving forward," Kamras said, adding that the school district will continue with this practice for future graduation ceremonies.

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