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York City schools invite girl barred for wearing suit

Sean Philip Cotter

Maggie Mafnas saw the story over the weekend: A Harrisburg-area teenager had been barred from attending her prom Friday because she was wearing a tuxedo rather than a dress.

So Mafnas, a York City history teacher, went to Brandon Carter, the principal of William Penn Senior High School in the city, and asked if the city school district could step in and help Aniya Wolf, a junior at Bishop McDevitt High School in Harrisburg.

"I immediately said, 'Absolutely,'" Carter said. "We’d be happy to have her."

The school will have two tickets with her name on them, for Aniya, who identifies as a lesbian, and a date, he said.

Carter said they haven't heard back yet from Aniya on whether she's coming to the prom, which is scheduled for May 21. The York Dispatch was unable to reach Aniya or her family for comment.

Carter said he's confident his students will welcome her. After all, he said, kids bucking gender norms isn't untreaded ground for York High; the school has had girls wear suits and boys wear dresses to prom before without an issue.

"Be accepting; embrace each other," he said. "The world is ever changing."

Aniya said she has worn a shirt and pants for all three years she has attended Bishop McDevitt, The Associated Press reported. She and her mother, Carolyn Wolf, said the family got a last-minute email saying girls had to wear dresses to attend Friday's prom.

Bishop McDevitt junior Aniya Wolf, who was barred from attended her prom because she was wearing a suit, is invited to come to the William Penn Senior High School prom.

Carolyn Wolf said she didn't think the dress code barred her daughter from wearing a suit and the last-minute message was unfair because they had bought a new suit.

Aniya said she decided to go to the prom anyway, but was thrown out.

The school released a statement Saturday saying the dress code was sent to parents three months ago specifying girls must wear formal dresses, and those who didn't follow it would not be admitted. A reminder was sent to all students on March 6, the school said.

"Bishop McDevitt will continue to practice acceptance and love for all of our students. They are tremendous young men and women," the school said. "We simply ask that they follow the rules that we have put into place."

Carter said he understands every school has their different policies, so he gets where Bishop McDevitt is coming from. But he encourages his school to be more open.

"The good book says: 'Love thy neighbor,'" Carter said. "And that's what we're trying to do."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

— Reach Sean Cotter or on Twitter at@SPCotterYD.