Every graduation day in June Mansfield teachers, parents and family members watch proudly as a new class of students, dressed in a sea of green- for boys- and white- for girls- gowns, cross the stage and receive their hard earned high school diploma. It’s easy to imagine this scene with a smile but from the point of view of gender neutrality, a student having to choose green or white might add confusion, a pressure to conform, or having to explain yourself endlessly.
This year, however, Mrs Watkins made a decision that all students would wear green. Although this aligns with what other communities are doing, and addresses a recommendation from the Department of Secondary and Elementary Education, she said it also felt like the right thing to do. Before deciding, Mrs. Watkins held several open meetings for parents to express their opinions, consulted with others on the administration leadership team, and talked with students. She also looked through old yearbooks and found that before 1984 MHS was all green already.
In the end, Mrs Watkins wants MHS to be a “safe and supportive school for all students- we don’t want any student to feel that graduation forces them to make a statement about their gender or identity in a public manner, nor is this the point of graduation, since we gather to celebrate the collective successes and efforts of the senior class as a whole.”