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Wasatch High School switches to ungendered graduation gowns

 Family and friends packed the gymnasium at South Summit High School in Kamas for 2023 graduation.
Connor Thomas
Family and friends packed the gymnasium at South Summit High School in Kamas for 2023 graduation.

Wasatch High School graduates will all wear the same color gown this year, joining a growing trend across Utah schools.

Up until this year, Wasatch High School graduates have worn different colored gowns. Young men typically wore black while young women wore white and previously gold.

Now, all 2024 and future Wasatch graduates will wear the same color, a change many other Utah schools have adopted as well. Wasatch High School Principal Justin Kelly said a committee decided the gowns will be black with gold trim to match the school’s primary colors.

The decision has been years in the making and Kelly said it’s based on cost.

“The committee just felt like for cost wise for availability to students who may not have ordered their cap and gown in a timely manner, it was cost effective that way,” he said

Kelly said it’s also cost effective for families with multiple graduates over the years as they won’t have to buy multiple gowns.

While Kelly said the decision had nothing to do with inclusivity, Park City High School made the change in the 2018-19 school year to be more equitable to students.

“We felt like it was the right thing to do so that students felt comfortable," Principal Roger Arbabi said. "Everybody, you know, is graduating as a unified class and there was no separation.”

He added he wasn’t aware of any cost difference with the gown change.

Kelly said Wasatch County residents have opposing views about the decision. Arbabi said Park City High School also faced mixed feelings.

“There had been families who'd, their daughter's had graduated in a white robe for years, and they wanted to make sure that there was a picture available for them to have a picture in the white robe instead of a red robe because the red had been associated with the boys for years," he said. "But there are other students who were very happy about it, they felt like they didn't have to make those different choices, to wear a particular color to identify with their gender.”

While the decision at the time received pushback, Arbabi said most are in support now.

This will also be South Summit High School’s first year where all grads will walk across the stage sporting one color.