This High School Is Having Students Pick Prom Dates Out Of A Hat

Photographed by Maria DelRio.
Prom is supposed to be a big party. But the dance can be steeped in heteronormative, patriarchal tradition. At most schools, one girl and one boy are elected prom queen and king, same-gender couples are often banned from going together, and girls are often shamed for their dress choices.
Needless to say, some "traditions" are better left in the past — and the prom lottery at one Illinois high school is one of them.
For more than 90 years, the junior and senior boys at Aquin High School have lined up in the school library to draw the name of their prom date out of a hat. The girls wait in the gym for the boys to come back, perform a little skit, and officially ask them to prom.
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And we have so many questions. Like, what happens if there are more boys in the class than there are girls, or vice versa? What if a student doesn't want to go to prom? What if they get paired up with someone they hate? Does this mean students can't go to the dance with their significant others? How does the school divvy up gender non-conforming students? What about same-sex couples?
The school says it's a lighthearted way to help students bond, according to local station WREX. The tradition started in 1926 to make sure no student went without a prom date and was probably meant to avoid bullying or isolation for the students. And the students don't seem too upset about it.
"I think most people are in disbelief and a lot of people say they would hate it," junior Michelle Gallagher told WREX. "But I think after they kind of hear the rest of the story and hear what goes into it I think a lot of people are actually intrigued by it. It's less of a date and more like something fun to do with your classmates."
Still, the idea irks us.
Clearly no one can force another person to go to prom against their will, but the idea of a prom lottery where men choose women out of a hat completely erases these girls' power to make decisions. It ignores the existence of LGBTQ people and relies heavily on the gender binary. To us, it's just another school dance tradition that needs an update.
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