St. Louis Area High School Discriminates Against Scottish Culture

My family and I at the St. Louis Scottish Games
My family and I at the St. Louis Scottish Games

UPDATE 3/29/12 @1:30pm: You can see the latest, and sign our petition here.

UPDATE 3/28/12 @10pm: More news coverage. This one from Associated Press and this from United Press International. And thanks to Mark Reardon on KMOX for covering the story.

UPDATE 3/28/12 @8am: The school board did not allow the wearing of the kilt to the prom, but reports are the student will wear a tartan tie instead. The student is satisfied with the results, even though the rest of us are not. We would encourage every school board to be more open to culture and international tradition that predates the invention of pants. I personally look forward to celebrating Scotland in the St. Louis and Chicago areas during the upcoming Tartan Day and Scotland Week celebrations, and hope you take the time, wherever you are, to do the same. You can see more regarding the story via the St. Louis Post Dispatch or the Daily Mail in the UK.

Thank you to the 12,000+ people from the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and across Europe who took interest in this issue by reading this blog, and to the many, many people who took action in support of Scotland.

UPDATE 3/27/12 @11pm: The situation has been rectified to the satisfaction of the student and an apology has been given to him. No more e-mails or phone calls are neccesary.

Here’s a first hand account of the School Board meeting from Ed Lorden:

“I was not able to get my kilt after work, but did address the Board only to have the Superintendent read the decision of the board. They were upholding a student handbook policy that I had not read. They said that the kilt and accouterments were not traditional attire for that event. I tried to use the “it’s a learning opportunity for the students to be exposed to another culture angle. I will say this much for the young man: he accepted the decision of the board with more grace and bearing than I would have suspected for high school student. His remarks began with an apology to the board and the faculty of the High School for the uncivil emails they had received. He argued well from a point of view that it was traditional, in a broader sense than just the school’s events. I was encouraged by his speech that perhaps there are some that come out of the public school system with the ability to think for themselves and be articulate about what they think. While I believe the decision made by the board is wrong on many levels, I applaud Will’s acquiescence to the decision of duly elected authority, having run through the machinations of appeal given him. He well represented his Scottish heritage.”


America is the melting pot of the world’s cultures. And the St. Louis area is no exception. Cultures from around the world are celebrated year round, and I am honored, as a Scottish immigrant, to help promote the celebration of the Scotland-America connection year round in the St. Louis area.

Every January we celebrate Robert Burns at numerous locations region-wide. In April, Tartan Day and Scotland Week are honored at the city and state levels. In September, the St. Louis Scottish Games take over Forest Park and many TV and radio stations. In November, St. Andrew’s Day is celebrated. And numerous other cultural events take place year round, business connections continue to be built, and I’ve even done a business presentation wearing the kilt, Scotland’s national outfit.

Unfortunately, this encouragement of culture and the celebration of Scotland does not extend to prom at Granite City High School.

Just a few days ago, student William Carruba was denied permission to wear his kilt to his upcoming prom. He appealed. He was then denied again. Now he is appealing this decision to the Granite City School Board, and his hearing is tomorrow, March 27.

Oh, and did I mention, when the school told Mr. Carruba he could not wear his kilt, they said, they “want to teach the men to dress like men.” I don’t take offense easily, but this one insults me, the Scottish community here in St. Louis and an entire nation back across the Pond.

I have already sent notes to the high school principal and every member of the school board. I would encourage you to do the same. And I will be keeping a close eye on this, hopeful that the school board will be a wee bit more open minded than those who discriminated against Scotland and Mr. Carruba in the first place.

[e-mail addresses of the principal and the school board have been removed by request]

Thanks for your support for Scotland and the expression of Scottish culture in the St. Louis area.


  1. You are a real man if you wear a kilt, check out the history of the men(Celts) who wore kilts and fought for their countries freedom.

    • Most Celts fought in nothing but woad tattoos. Kilts in latter years yes, but tartan ones? That’s relatively recent.

      As William Maclaine pointed out, it’s much to do with “British royalty”, popularised in Victorian times as a heredity display (something important to the Saxe-Coburg and their inbred ilk, the like of which had the tenacity to call as privileged a person as Catherine Middleton a “commoner” for not being William’s cousin).

      The Royals aren’t welcome in Scotland, how the majority vote is testament to that. They think that just because Charles wears a kilt, and just because they own estate in Scotland (inherited from those who took it by force with the paid for assistance of corrupt lairds), that we accept them. Oh, the wealthiest few of the middle and upper classes might, but they’re just as bad and out of touch.

      To look at Highland dress as the garb of those who fought the English is as historically inaccurate as Mel Gibson’s depiction of William Wallace. “Highland” Dress and “Clan” tartans were popularised at the time of the Highland Clearances, the genocide and expulsion of the original inhabitants to place their land in the hands of wealthy estate owners for agriculture. No, rather than a symbol of national solidarity, they’re a marker of successful oppression and indoctrination.

      As demeaning and intolerant this School’s Board is, it’s nothing compared to the millenia of gradual cultural annihilation of the people of Europe (and consequently the rest of the world through colonialism) at the hands of the wealthy elite.

      Compared to the assimilation of pagans into the Abrahamic death cults, this is nothing.

      How Scottish am I? Do I speak Pictish? No. Do I even Speak Gaelic, a language brought to Scotland by the Irish alongside written language and Christianity? No, I speak English. Is my name Scottish? Ben, Hebrew. Toby, Hebrew. McFarlane, from the Gaelic “Son of Bartholomew” – Bartholomew, Hebrew. Do I live in any capacity as the Insular Celts did before the barrage of Romans, Saxons, Normans, monarchies, agricultural revolutions, industrial revolution etc? No. Would I even be able to nowadays? No. Would I even know how to if I could? No.

      Most European (and many other) indigenous cultures are dead, our freedom lost many centuries ago. Getting to wear a kilt to prom would be a hollow victory.

      • I agree with what you say about the tartan. It was largely an invention of Sir Walter Scott, a Victorian novelist.

        “The Royals aren’t welcome in Scotland”

        Not true. Scotland is extremely royalist. Alec Salmond, the First Minister of Scotland, the leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party has pledged that after independence the Queen will still be the head of state of Scotland (she is, of course, currently Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, but technically she is Queen Elizabeth I of Scotland, since Good Queen Bess was Queen Elizabeth of only England).

        Salmond is not an ardent royalist, he is a very astute politician and he knows that if he says that an independent Scotland would become a republic then he would suffer a thorough defeat in the independence referendum. Indeed, Salmond says that England is more likely to become a republic than Scotland. Of course, Scotland’s monarchism may change when Charles takes over the throne, because he makes it difficult for even the most loyalist monarchist to justify having a royal family.

        • Richard, Salmond’s position on the monarchy did… give me alot to think about to say the least.
          However, I don’t think his position is down to any royalist following in Scotland. As I see it, it’s Westminster that still calls the shots, and the current Tory government has tried it’s best to obstruct and handicap any bid for Scottish Independence.
          That same Tory government has also shown very royalist leanings in the build up to the Jubilee, including proposals for a new royal yacht to be bought with taxpayer money, and the renaming of the Westminster clock tower that holds Big Ben to the “Elizabeth Tower”.
          Remember, it’s still a while until any election or referendum surfaces, so rather than the electorate, it’s the government in power that Salmond has to contend with.
          I don’t think I’ve spoken to a single other Scot who supports the monarchy (but then again, I don’t hang around Edinburgh City Centre), other than maybe… Gers fans, but only so much as it’s part of the UK and pisses off Celtic. Still reckon they think they’re a bunch of posh twats.
          It’s unfortunate, but what little support for the monarchy there is in Scotland comes from the wealthiest, most powerful, most well connected people, with the most land ownership, and those in the press. That to me, doesn’t constitute an overwhelming majority in support of the monarchy.

      • While true on many levels it does nothing to help this man’s cause to be a Scottish-American. Because as we all know, just being “American” is a shameful thing. Divisiveness needs the “_______”-American moniker otherwise our precious, unique snowflakes are just a simple pack of chest-thumping consumers waiting for the next episode of Mad Men to tell them where to buy a shirt.

      • Ben has some valid points and I’ve spoken with many friends of mine in Scotland about the royals, most don’t give them much thought, but none support them. Scotland would like to be independent these days. However as a student of history and all things Scottish I’d like to make one small adjustment, the dress kilt as seen today is a product of Victorian times, however the great kilt has been worn in the Highlands since the early 1500’s. As for the Tartan patterns, well they are still being invented today, but the oldest patterns did distinguish clans and areas. In the end there is nothing wrong with loving your heritage and knowing about your past. If this kid has a dress kilt with the jacket, flashes, etc. etc. then what is wrong with that, it’s actually a more formal look than a modern tuxedo. I wear my full dress kilt all the time to formal events and on cruises and have never had anything but compliments. All history is important, those that forget the past are doomed to repeat it! Cheers

    • I wear a kilt all summer. There’s a company in Seattle that makes Utilikilts, which are heavy-duty workman’s kilts with tool loops & cargo pockets. I build houses wearing it, and no, I don’ think anyone would say to my face that I’m dressed like a girl.

  2. I can’t believe that people of Scottish descent would be treated in such a disrespectful and demeaning manner. Would they still do this if we were taking about Ribert Burns High School or William Wallace High School?

    • Renaming the school to William Wallace High School to capture this event would be perfect

  3. Before firing off any emails to anyone, I have a question, exactly what is the makeup of this young lad’s outfit. If it is truly a tasteful dress outfit, then yes it would be nice if the school board would “embrace diversity”, but, if he’s wanting to wear some hacked up, punk version with combat boots and a mohawk.. well, I’d prefer he not give the kilt that bad image.

    For prom.. nice kilt, Gillie’s and flashes or buckle shoes & hose, Argyle or preferably Prince Charlie jacket etc.

  4. Americans of Scottish descent have played a vibrant and influential role in the development of the United States. From the framers of the Declaration of Independence to the first man on the moon, Scottish-Americans have contributed mightily to the fields of the arts, science, politics, law, and more. (
    And YES, many of these men HAVE WORN KILTS! Our country is founded from many nations. It is imperative that we respect everyone’s ethnicity.

    Furthermore, I DARE anyone on the board of education to tell a Scottish athlete (like the ones throwing a 250# caber) that he needs to help “teach the men to dress like men.” Lets just see what they would say!

  5. I’m going to the meeting tonight, in one of my kilts and a tuxedo jacket. I will attempt to educate the Board of Education on the advantages of having a young man research and then want to share the results with his classmates.

  6. I guess the educated staff missed the many times British royalty has worn dress kilts to formal functions. Pure nonsense on their part.

  7. “teach men to be men” !? Really? I’m betting they wouldn’t say that in front of the Scottish rugby (or even the football team)! or a squad from the Royal Highland Fusiliers!

  8. As a history teacher at GCHS, and someone who has spent fair amount of time, not only in Scotland, but many places on the Continent as well, I’m rather perplexed by the way that this isue is being handled. It seems that a witch hunt has developed. After reading the comments here, to those ignorant of the facts, it would SEEM that the staff, teachers, and school board are living in the Middle Ages. Therefore, I felt it necessary to mention that there is just a WEE bit of information that all of you lack. In the future please refrain from making such harsh statements regarding a situation of which you lack complete knowledge.

    • If you felt it important to inform us that we lack information, you should have provided it. Within the bounds of ” confidentiality”, you could have help people here avoid making assumptions. BUT since you did not, you in fact added nothing to the conversation, leaving us to conclude that the board is in fact, clueless, or moe liley, homophobic, AND clueless.

    • I understand that it is quite possible that there may be information lacking. Unfortunately, that is often the case. Please inform us.
      Aside from whatever reasons may be given for Mr. Carruba to not be allowed to wear a kilt, or his motives in wanting to wear one, I think the real question is NOT about this one boy in particular, but why it would ever be disallowed in the first place.

    • You say you’re a teacher there. If you have further information that would throw some light on the subject, as you seem to suggest, perhaps you would like to share it with the whole class?

    • You say we do not know the true fact behind the denial of wearing the kilt. However, you do not state what these “fact” are. Please eductae us!

    • Most of the time things are as they appear. This young man may have intentions to be humorous at the prom and show everyone what a Scotsman wears under his Kilt. Is this reason enough to deny entry? No, it’s not. Allowing the young man to wear his Kilt and tossing him out the second he lifts it shows the school is open to all cultures as long as they are legally decent.

    • Then enlighten us ,sir! From what I have read here…..a young man wants to wear a kilt to his prom. He has been told by the principal that he cannot do this….stating ” we have to teach men to be men”. Many a man throughout this country wear a kilt to formal occasions…….why not a prom? I don’t see what the problem is. Again, I say, enlighten us???

    • “Therefore, I felt it necessary to mention that there is just a WEE bit of information that all of you lack.”

      In truth, I wish you felt the same necessity to mention what that wee bit of information that we all lack might be.

    • Wow – the issue is NOT the wearing of the kilt. The school district does not take issue with the cultural pride of any student. This particular issue is not about cultural heritage, it is about the past and present choices of student(s). The issue is with student behavior and due to privacy laws the details of which cannot be divulged to the public. Our Principal made NO such comment and would never. He is a champion for these kids and almost every student in this building would agree. Interesting to note that throughout this ordeal – not one student has brought the “issue” up in class. Come on people – think. Do you not perceive that there are other issues here??

      What has happened to our society? People can make such strong statements and judgments without verification of facts? I find such behavior ludicrous – to say the least. Personally, I don’t really care what a student wears to the prom or to my history class as long as the student is learning something. The issue for me is how this is being handled by those that are not informed – poorly.

  9. Good article, Mr. Sutherland. I cannot imagine how any institution of education can hope to retain its credibility if it denounces a student’s culture this overtly. Cultural expression is a form of education. I would like to see if this school has any policy in place that addresses cultural diversity, because if no such policy exists, the school has not kept up with current educational standards.

  10. being a guy who wears kilts from not too far from that area in Illinois, I am ashamed of how they are acting. I am gonna get involved. This is an outrage.

  11. One of my good friends wore a kilt to his high school prom (some 10-11 years ago now) and I don’t think it even occurred to him to ask the school for permission. He just did it. No one said anything. A tartan kilt, dress shirt and Prince Charlie jacket with a tie is generally considered acceptable black tie attire. Much more tasteful than a lot of guys I’ve seen wearing pink or green tuxes, blech. Mind you, I live in Canada.

  12. Proud Crawford here.

    I emailed and suggested that perhaps they should review the qualifications of a principal who is so culturally ignorant that he does not know a kilt isn’t “drag.” They might want to review the principal’s college history grades as well.

    I just MIGHT be understanding if the principal gently suggested that the young man break tradition and wear briefs or boxers in case of an accidental flash at prom, especially because teens would be tempted to see if it’s true that you don’t wear underwear with a kilt. That might be reasonable, and would show at least SOME cultural awareness.

    I wonder if this is a school that allows young ladies to show up at prom dressed like hookers, but will not allow a young man to proudly wear his kilt?

  13. My e-mail to the GCSB:
    RE: William Carruba’s Kilted Prom
    Dear Sirs and Madams,

    This dust up reminds me of junior high school in the early 70’s.

    The school administration passed a dress code that banned facial hair on the boys.
    “Discrimination!”, we cried.

    In response the administration amended the dress code banning facial hair on girls!

    So, if young William is not allowed to wear his unbifurcated garment to the prom then one response would be to ban similar garments on the young women! Pants it shall be for young men and young women alike!

    And, in response to the narrow minded individual who stated, “we want to teach the men to dress like men.” Obviously, that person has never seen a picture of Sean Connery in a fine kilt. Sean Connery? Not a “man”? The James Bond of my youth, not a man? Blasphemy, I say! It takes a real man to wear the kilt!

    So I beg of you…Let young William honor his heritage at the school prom!

    And let freedom swing!

    Les Ganninger
    Overland Park Kansas

  14. I just sent in my email…. here it is for you as well

    To whom it may concern,

    I am writing regarding this article that was forwarded to me via the power of social media.

    America is the epitome of cultural diversity. This country was founded based on an ever-evolving set of principles that include understanding and acceptance of “different” cultures.
    I wore a kilt throughout high school, including to my prom in Colorado. Expressing my culture helped me define myself by remembering my heritage. There is a lot of confusion that goes on in high school. As you well know, kids are finding themselves, discovering who they are and separating themselves from their parents and the adults in their lives by building their own values. An appreciation of culture and heritage is one such value.

    Kilts were around for hundreds of years before pants were. Men all over the world still wear kilts and sarongs and all manner of unbifurcated garments. For most of history and in many cultures today, pants are the minority.

    I strongly encourage you to allow young mister Carruba to remember his heritage and express himself by wearing his kilt to the prom and to every-day schooling if he so chooses.

    Matt Beaty
    Chief Executive Manager
    thevisualCollective, LLC
    [email protected]


  15. My email to the Superintendent:

    It is my understanding that a student, William Carruba, has been denied permission to wear a kilt to his school prom. I further understand he was told the reason for the denial was that the school wished to “teach the men to dress like men.”

    The kilt is male clothing, as I’m sure you are aware. And while we are not in Scotland, we are presumably in a county that prizes and draws strength from the many cultures who have contributed to our common history.

    When I was in college in Memphis, we had, on occasion, students in all manner of dress, from Indian saris to elaborate robes worn by Kenyan students. The proper wearing of the kilt, especially in conjunction with formal attire, offers an opportunity to educate and enrich the lives of the students with whom Mr. Carruba would interact, and I strongly urge the Board to reverse the school’s decision.

  16. A kilt? you’re kidding me, that’s formal attire for most Scottish people, I’m appalled…I saw wear it and tell the school to accept it or accept a lawsuit. What’s next, Japanese students being denied wearing Kimono to a school function in the US?

  17. I wear my kilt at any given opportunity. I wore a kilt to a friend from another schools prom and everyone loved it. I got married in a kilt. There is no way in hell I would let a school board tell me I couldn’t wear my kilt to a school function. Would they try to stop an African-American student from wearing his dashiki? No, They wouldn’t. That would cause tons of lawsuits.

  18. The History of the Kilt stretches back to at least the end of the 16th century. The kilt first appeared as the belted plaid or great kilt, a full length garment whose upper half could be worn as a cloak draped over the shoulder, or brought up over head as a cloak. The small kilt or walking kilt (similar to the ‘modern’ kilt) did not develop until the late 17th or early 18th century, and is essentially the bottom half of the great kilt.
    The word kilt comes from the Scots word kilt meaning to tuck up the clothes around the body, although the 11th edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica (vol. 15, p. 798) says the word is Scandinavian in origin. The Scots word derives from the Old Norse kjalta,[1] from Norse settlers who wore a similar, pleated garment.
    The great kilt
    The Breacan an Fhéilidh (belted plaid) or Féileadh Mòr (great plaid) is likely to have evolved over the course of the 16th century from the earlier ‘brat’ or woollen cloak (also known as plaid) which was worn over a tunic. This earlier cloak or brat may have been plain in colour or in various check or tartan designs, depending on the wealth of the wearer; this earlier fashion of clothing had not changed significantly from that worn by Celtic warriors in Roman times.[2]
    Over the course of the 16th century, with the increasing availability of wool, the cloak had grown to such a size that it began to be gathered up and belted. The belted plaid was originally a length of thick woollen cloth made up from two loom widths sewn together to give a total width of 54 to 60 inches, and up to 7 yards (6.4 m) in length. This garment, also known as the great kilt, was gathered up into pleats by hand and secured by a wide belt. The upper half could be worn as a cloak draped over the left shoulder, hung down over the belt and gathered up at the front, or brought up over the shoulders or head for protection against weather. It was worn over a leine (a full sleeved garment stopping below the waist) and could also serve as a camping blanket.
    A description from 1746 states:
    “The garb is certainly very loose, and fits men inured to it to go through great fatigues, to make very quick marches, to bear out against the inclemency of the weather, to wade through rivers, and shelter in huts, woods, and rocks upon occasion; which men dressed in the low country garb could not possibly endure.”[3]
    For battle it was customary to take off the kilt beforehand and set it aside, the Highland charge being made wearing only the léine or war shirt. The exact age of the great kilt is still under debate. Some claim it had existed at the beginning of the 16th century.[citation needed] Earlier carvings or illustrations prior to the 16th century appearing to show the kilt may show the Leine Croich, a knee-length shirt of leather, linen or canvas, heavily pleated and sometimes quilted as protection. The earliest written source that definitely describes the belted plaid or great kilt comes from 1594.[2] The great kilt is mostly associated with the Scottish highlands, but was also used in poor lowland rural areas. Widespread use of this type of kilt continued into the 19th century, and some still wear it today.
    The small kilt or walking kilt
    Sometime in the late 17th or early 18th century the fèileadh beag, filibeg, or philabeg (the small kilt) using a single width of cloth hanging down below the belt came into use and became quite popular throughout the Highlands and northern Lowlands by 1746, though the great kilt also continued in use. The small kilt or philabeg is a clear development from the great kilt, i.e. it is essentially the bottom half of the great kilt.
    A letter published in the Edinburgh Magazine in March 1785 by one Ivan Baillie argued that the garment people would today recognize as a kilt was invented around the 1720s by Thomas Rawlinson, a Quaker from Lancashire. Rawlinson was claimed to have designed it for the Highlanders who worked in his new charcoal production facility in the woods of northern Scotland. After the Jacobite campaign of 1715 the government was “opening” the Highlands to outside exploitation and Rawlinson was one of the businessmen who took advantage of the situation. It was thought that the traditional Highland kilt, the “belted plaid” which consisted of a large cloak, was inconvenient for tree cutters. He supposedly brought the Highland garment to a tailor, intent on making it more practical. The tailor responded by cutting it in two. Rawlinson took this back and then introduced the new kilt. Rawlinson liked the new creation so much that he began to wear it as well and was soon imitated by his Scottish colleagues, the Clan MacDonnell of Glengarry.
    This story has become well known, due in part to the historian Hugh Trevor-Roper’s work, but more recent evidence has shown this theory to be out of date as several illustrations have been found of Highlanders wearing only the bottom part of the belted plaid that date long before Rawlinson ever set foot in Scotland.[citation needed] There is some suggestion of its use in the 1690s,[citation needed] and it was definitely being worn by the early 18th century. It most likely came about as a natural evolution of the belted plaid and Rawlinson probably observed it and quickly deduced its usefulness in his situation and insisted on introducing it among his workers. So while it may well be the case that Rawlinson promoted the philabeg, he is no longer credited with inventing it.[2]
    The first instance we have of the pleats being sewn in to the philabeg, creating a true tailored kilt, comes in 1792. This kilt, currently in the possession of the Scottish Tartans Authority [1], is the first garment that can truly be called a ‘modern’ kilt as we know it today. Up until this point, the kilt was folded, rather than pleated. This development served to speed the donning of the kilt and was brought into use by the Scottish regiments serving in the British Army. The tailored military kilt and its formalised accessories then passed to the civilian market during the early 19th century and has remained popular ever since.[2]
    Proscription and revival of the kilt
    A characteristic of the Highland clan system was that clansmen felt loyalty only to God, their monarch, and their Chief. The Jacobite Risings demonstrated the dangers to central government of such warrior Highland clans, and as part of a series of measures the government of King George II imposed the “Dress Act” in 1746, outlawing all items of Highland dress including kilts (although an exception was made for the Highland Regiments) with the intent of suppressing highland culture. The penalties were severe; six months’ imprisonment for the first offense and seven years’ transportation for the second. The ban remained in effect for 35 years.
    Thus, with the exception of the Army, the kilt went out of use in the Scottish Highlands, but during those years it became fashionable for Scottish romantics to wear kilts as a form of protest against the ban. This was an age that romanticized “primitive” peoples, which is how Highlanders were viewed. Most Lowlanders had viewed Highlanders with fear before 1745, but many identified with them after their power was broken. The kilt, along with other features of Gaelic culture, had become identified with Jacobitism, and now that this had ceased to be a real danger it was viewed with romantic nostalgia.
    Once the ban was lifted in 1782, Highland landowners set up Highland Societies with aims including “Improvements” (which others would call the Highland clearances) and promoting “the general use of the ancient Highland dress”. The Celtic Society of Edinburgh, chaired by Walter Scott, encouraged lowlanders to join this antiquarian enthusiasm. Also in Ireland, any form of Gaelic customs was outlawed by the Penal laws.
    The kilt became identified with the whole of Scotland with the pageantry of the visit of King George IV to Scotland in 1822, even though 9 out of 10 Scots now lived in the Lowlands. Scott and the Highland societies organised a “gathering of the Gael” and established entirely new Scottish traditions, including Lowlanders wearing a stylised version of the traditional garment of the Highlanders. At this time many other traditions such as clan identification by tartan were developed (prior to this, tartans were identified with regions, not specific clans).
    After that point the kilt gathered momentum as an emblem of Scottish culture as identified by antiquarians, romantics, and others, who spent much effort praising the “ancient” and natural qualities of the kilt. King George IV had appeared in a spectacular kilt, and his successor Queen Victoria dressed her boys in the kilt, widening its appeal. The kilt became part of the Scottish national identity and the wider Celtic identity.
    Military use
    2nd Lieutenant Donald Callander of the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders. At the evacuation of Dunkirk in May 1940 he was one of the last serving officers to fight in the kilt.
    From 1624 the Independent Companies of Highlanders had worn kilts as government troops, and with their formation into the Highland regiment in 1739 their great kilt uniform was standardised with a new dark tartan.
    Many Jacobite rebels adopted kilts as an informal uniform, with even their English supporters wearing tartan items during the Jacobite Rising of 1745. In the aftermath of that rebellion the Government decided to form more Highland regiments for the army in order to direct the energies of Gaels, that “hardy and intrepid race of men”.[4] In doing so they formed effective new army regiments to send to fight in India, North America, and other locations while lowering the possibility of rebellion at home. Army uniforms were exempt from the ban on wearing kilts in the “Dress Act”, and as a means of identification the regiments were given different tartans. These regiments opted for the modern kilts for dress uniforms, and while the great kilt remained as undress uniform this was phased out by the early 19th century. Many Scottish units wore kilts in combat during WWI. In particular, the ferocious tactics of the Royal Highland Regiment led to their acquiring the nickname “Ladies from Hell” from the German troops that faced them in the trenches. The Highland Regiments entered WWII wearing the kilt, but it was rapidly recognized as impractical for modern warfare and was last worn in action at the evacuation of Dunkirk in May 1940. However, on D-Day, June 1944, Lord Lovat, commander of 1 Special Service Brigade, was accompanied by his personal piper Bill Millin, who wore a kilt – and also played the bagpipes –- while German bullets whizzed around him.[5]
    The kerns of gaelic Ireland wore the long léine, or “saffron shirt” (often misinterpreted as a kilt in depictions) may have had connections with the predecessor of the modern kilt.[6] This tradition has been continued in the pipe bands of the Republic of Ireland’s defence forces.

  19. “Teach the men to dress like men?”
    I tell you what, I didn’t fight a war so that some desk jockey puke could tell someone he’s not a man. I wore my kilt in some off time in Iraq, I wear my kilt almost everywhere in America. As soon as one of these “educators” manages to prove he’s an actual man, and not just a jumped up bully talking down to someone else, then I might consider his opinion. I’m appalled at the standard being set here.

  20. You’re wearing your kilt a little too long. It should be just long enough that, if you kneel, it doesn’t quite touch the ground.

    Also, what a bunch of ignorant, bigoted (and probably homo/transphobic) tossers. Only a guy built like a brick outhouse can wear a kilt. And it should *swing* as you walk.

  21. I know Carruba and i know a lot of people think this is bad but before all this happen he was talking about wearing this kilt to be funny and making it a big joke, so i support the schools decision and I hope the school board denies him also.

  22. As you can see the Kilt has a long History and should not be discriminated against. If we can accept Afro-American, Mexican-American, Asian-Amerrcan,or Muslim-American Historical clothing, then why not Scottish or Irish-American.

  23. As a side note William Wallice’s mother was Margaret Crawford. So denying the chance to be proud of ones own ancestery is the worst thing a school can do.

  24. A school is meant to educate our children, whether it be with academics as well as socially. The fact that you are not allowing this child to wear something that he is proud of is particulary a case of DISCRIMINATION!!! Instead you should educate your students on the differences of religion and ancestery rather than exlude him from this rite of passage. We are a land of immigrants, that is how the United States was founded and you should continue to welcome all cultures and instead of being ignorant to the true meaning of a kilt….. look it up and understand it…. Ignorance will get you no where

  25. As a Scot I’d defend the right of any man, woman or child to wear a kilt, irrespective of their nationality, or ancestry,

    However, it’s interesting to note that the modern style of kilt, as opposed to plaid, was invented both after the Declaration of Independence, and the migration of Scottish settlers to what was to become the USA. So, technically speaking, it isn’t ancestral dress for most Americans who claim Scottish Ancestry.

  26. What about Japanese kimono’s or the various dress from areas in Africa? Where do they draw the line?
    I too would be interested in the make-up of the students complete outfit.

  27. This young man surely knew he’d open himself up to jeers of “gaylord” and “faggot” and yet he presses on. I started wearing kilts when I was 11 and haven’t regretted it one bit. They school claims to be worried about their young men and yet they fail to recognize the courage and perseverance of this young man as he opposes this ludicrous decree.

    I wonder, would any of the Board members have had the courage to wear a kilt in high school?

    Judge not lest ye be judged.

  28. I added this to my Blog! As a 100% Scot, I find this offensive to the point of being disgustingly racist.

    Oh, to any mockers – like i said in my post “I dare you to call me a man in a skirt” -its easy to make fun on the internet. You meet a kilt wearer in person and insult their national pride! Go on -try it.

    And any excuse to have a photo of Samuel L Jackson in a kilt – I dare you even more to tell him he’s a skirt wearing nancy boy…. LOL

  29. “want to teach the men to dress like men.” is a statement born of ignorance. I’ve traveled the world for years always wearing kilts to many countries and cultures (asia, south pacific, south america, africa, cuba, just to name a few) and have always been accepted and congratulated.

    Its been my experience over the years that the most culturally ignorant and unaccepting people in the world are those right here in the USA.

    Wear the kilt and help educate the culturally unaware – it is so sad that this is coming from an educational institution.

    • “want to teach the men to dress like men.”….

      Tell that to all of the firefighters and police officers pipes and drums bands who proudly wear the kilt when they are performing for parades, special events and the funerals of their Brothers and Sisters on the thin red adn thin blue lines….

  30. Please remember to be civil and respectful when e-mailing the board and the principal. The board has yet to rule, no other teachers are involved to my knowledge, and the statement about “dressing like men” was attributed to the principal and him alone.

  31. As for “it has to be tradtion” -i’m going to have to dispute that. I have 3 trad kilts and 3 non trads, and wear them all as proudly. if this brave lad wants to wear a Steampunk Alt-kilt to prom, he’s still a proud Scottish patriot and his classmates should cheer him, not jeer.

    GAUN YERSEL!!!! As we’d say back home!

  32. My Email to the Board and Administrators:

    Dear Board Members and Administrators,

    I am writing today to voice my support for Willam Carruba and concern over the position taken by the Granite City High School regarding his intention to wear his kilt to the prom.

    To say that I am shocked that this position has been taken is an understatement. In this age of multicultural acceptance and openess, the banning or restriction of any traditional cultural clothing article is at best a bad idea, and at worst grounds for a human rights complaint. As a fellow educator (a Director of Student Services at a public college) I sincerely hope that this story ( is filled with inaccuracies as it has been identified across the United States and Canada that the internationalization of education is not only a best practice, but a positive way forward for our contemporary multicultural society.

    As you can tell, this story is growing legs that are reaching far beyond the borders of your district, state, country and continent. You have the opportunity to support an expression of multiculturalism by allowing William to wear a culturally relevant and appropriate article of clothing, or at least to respond to the allegations of rascism, sexism and ignorance that have been forwarded in the previously cited article. It is my hope that this has all been a grave misunderstanding as I can assure you that people like myself are anxiously waiting to see your response with our fingers on the “Forward,” “Retweet,” “Copy,” and “Post” buttons.

    As a person who has worn a kilt, a sarong, a sari, and many other culturally unique garments of clothing to the most important moments of my life including multiple graduations, weddings, my own marriage, celebrations of life and more, I take this very seriously and I hope that the Board and Administration realize the error that has been committed, and find a positive way forward.


  33. Lets start a fund to save for hiring Sean Connery to visit this school as a guest speaker on Scottish Culture LOL! I think to protest this all students should dress from their native cultures to show support. Lederhosen, Togas, the list is endless!!!

  34. Under the fire of Nazi guns and wading through a sea turning crimson with the blood of fallen colleagues, Bill Millin struggled towards the Normandy sands.

    Waist deep in water, he led the commandos of the 1st Special Service Brigade on to the beach as they fought to their deaths on the most famous day of World War II.

    Amid the clatter of battle and dreadful cries of the injured, Millin only just caught the five words that turned him into a hero. ‘Give us “Highland Laddie” man!’ shouted Lord Lovat, the charismatic Chief of Clan Fraser and Brigadier of the 2,500 commandos, who was determined to put some backbone into his invading forces.
    Piper Bill Millin played again on the Normandy beaches to celebrate the the 35th anniversary of the D-Day Landings

    Piper Bill Millin played again on the Normandy beaches to celebrate the the 35th anniversary of the D-Day Landings

    Obediently, 21-year-old Millin, Lovatt’s personal piper, put the mouthpiece of his bagpipes to his lips, ignored the carnage and thundering crash of gunfire – and played as he had never played before.

    It was 8.40 on June 6 1944, the morning of D-day. In the largest amphibious assault ever mounted, 150,000 troops from Britain, America and Canada were landing along a 60-mile stretch of the Normandy coastline.

    D-day was the turning point in the Allies’ battle against Hitler. And the name of Bill Millin, who died this week aged 88, is intrinsically linked with the events of that early summer’s day. He is a reminder of the bravery and sacrifice of ordinary soldiers as they fought to protect this nation from the Nazis. He will live for ever in the annals of history.
    Bill Millin in 1944: The playing of the pipes lifted the spirits of hard-pressed British troops, and dumbfounded the German defenders

    Bill Millin in 1944: The playing of the pipes lifted the spirits of hard-pressed British troops, and dumbfounded the German defenders

    The French awarded him their Croix d’Honneur and plan to erect a statue to him close to the beach where he marched ashore – the most eastern of the beaches picked by the Allies for the invasion.

    The long stretch of sand where his haunting music stirred his fellow soldiers into battle near the French town of Ouistreham was codenamed Sword, while the other four beaches to the west were Omaha, Gold, Utah and Juno.

    By the time Millin landed, it had already been a tumultuous journey across the Channel. ‘I had my pipes with me as we set off from England the night before,’ he explained later. ‘I had been playing to the troops waiting to board the landing craft as we went along the Hamble river, and then I put them back in the box.

    ‘Lord Lovat said: “You better get them out again because you can play us out of the Solent and into the Channel. You will be in the leading craft with me.” ‘

    He stood at the front of the landing craft piping The Road To The Isles. When the commandos were just off the Isle of Wight, they met thousands of other boats and ships carrying troops. ‘They heard the pipes, and they were throwing their hats in the air and cheering,’ he remembered.

    He only stopped playing because the waves had become choppy and he was losing his balance. ‘After we left the Solent and were out in the Channel, the hatches on the landing craft were put down and we were very cramped.

    There were some people playing cards, but most were violently sick, including myself. The next morning I pushed open the hatch and looked out at a grey dawn. The wind was blowing and freezing

    ‘Then after another half an hour people were starting to get gear together, their rucksacks on and were making towards the front of the craft. We could see the mist of the French shoreline and the neat bungalows along the seafront.’
    The only weapon Bill carried on D-day was a small dagger tucked into his sock

    The only weapon Bill carried on D-day was a small dagger tucked into his sock

    Bill continued: ‘Everyone was checking their kit, and putting their kit on. I didn’t think of being shot, how many Germans there were or anything other than the smell of seasickness on me. We all got up on deck and we stood in the freezing wind watching the shoreline. Then the order came to get ashore and I was very pleased.’

    Lord Lovat, 32, jumped into the water first. Because Lovat was over 6ft tall, Bill waited to see what depth it was before going in. He said: ‘My kilt floated to the surface and the shock of the freezing cold water knocked all feelings of sickness from me.’

    Within seconds the commandos were being struck down by German mortar shells and machine-gun fire. One commando was killed as Lovat got into the sea, his body floating up by Bill as he made for the shore.

    Yet Lovat asked Bill to play again. He nearly refused. ‘Well, when I looked round – the noise and people lying about on the ground, the shouting and the smoke, the crump of mortars,’ he said later, ‘I said to myself: “Well, you must be joking, surely.”

    But Lovat insisted, and Bill said: ‘Well, what tune would you like, Sir?’

    ‘How about Highland Laddie and The Road To The Isles?’ said Lovat, telling him to walk up and down the beach as he played.

    Bill could see soldiers lying face down in the water as he played. ‘Troops to my left were trying to dig in just off the beach,’ he recalled. ‘Yet when they heard the pipes, some of them stopped what they were doing and waved their arms, cheering.’

    Lovat’s commandos were heavily machine-gunned and mortared, but had a vital objective and pressed on. They had orders to link up with the British 6th Airborne division and keep secure a strategically vital bridge over the Caen Canal three miles down a road full of German snipers beyond Sword beach.

    The airborne division had captured the bridge in the early hours that day in an assault later immortalised in the classic film The Longest Day, in which the part of Millin was played by Pipe Major Leslie de Laspee, the official piper to the Queen Mother. The 180-strong company airborne division, led by Major John Howard, swooped at dawn in gliders.

    The crossing was later renamed Pegasus Bridge, after the flying horse shoulder emblem worn by British airborne forces.

    The attack took the Germans completely by surprise and stopped them from swarming over the bridge and towards Sword beach.

    It also allowed the invading soldiers to push across the bridge and make their way through France.

    Throughout that morning, the airborne division had to repel repeated counter-attacks at Pegasus, which was surrounded by Panzer divisions. And by early afternoon, the jaded British troops were urgently needing help from Lovat and his commandos.

    Suddenly, at 1 pm, there was the sound of bagpipes. With Bill Millin playing Lovat’s favourite tune Blue Bonnets Over The Border, the commandos marched into view. despite heavy German fire, as the red berets of the airborne division and the green berets of the commandos mingled there was a lightening of spirits.

    Major Howard approached Lovat. Holding out his hand, he said: ‘We are very pleased to see you, old boy.’ Lovat responded: ‘Yes, and sorry we are twoanda-half minutes late.’

    The commandos went over the bridge to confront the Germans – with Bill Millin playing his pipes as brave as a lion leading the way.

    ‘not once did I think I was going to die,’ said Bill afterwards. ‘I was too busy playing. We had been attacked by snipers once we left Sword Beach, particularly from cornfields on the right of the road. ‘At one point I glanced round, stopped playing and everyone was face down on the road. even Lovat was on one knee. Then the next thing this sniper comes scrambling down from a tree and Lovat and our group dash forward.

    ‘We could see this sniper’s head bobbing about in the cornfield. Lovat shot at him and he fell. Lovat sent two men into the cornfield to see what had happened, and they brought back the dead body.’

    reMArkABLY, the only weapon Bill carried that long day was a Scottish dirk in his sock. He survived unscathed The Germans put a hole in his bagpipes with shrapnel. So he just pulled a spare set out of his rucksack.

    The great mystery is why the Germans didn’t gun him down. He couldn’t have been more conspicuous in full Highland dress and with blaring bagpipes.

    Pipers were banned in conflict zones after World War I because so many died. Lovat’s orders for Bill to play on d-day breached all Army rules.

    It would take Bill more than 40 years to find out why he survived. He said: ‘I met a German commander at a dday reunion and asked why they hadn’t shot me.

    ‘The commander just tapped his head and said “We thought you were a ‘Dummkopf ‘, or off your head. Why waste bullets on a Dummkopf?” ‘

    Read more:–D-Day-piper-Nazis-thought-mad.html#ixzz1qMO2XvbB

  35. I am a Scot, my Grandfather fought in the 1st World War, in the Black Watch and he wore his kilt with honour in battle!

  36. I was not able to get my kilt after work, but did address the Board only to have the Superintendent read the decision of the board. They were upholding a student handbook policy that I had not read. They said that the kilt and accouterments were not traditional attire for that event. I tried to use the “it’s a learning opportunity for the students to be exposed to another culture angle. I will say this much for the young man: he accepted the decision of the board with more grace and bearing than I would have suspected for high school student. His remarks began with an apology to the board and the faculty of the High School for the uncivil emails they had received. He argued well from a point of view that it was traditional, in a broader sense than just the school’s events. I was encouraged by his speech that perhaps there are some that come out of the public school system with the ability to think for themselves and be articulate about what they think. While I believe the decision made by the board is wrong on many levels, I applaud Will’s acquiescence to the decision of duly elected authority, having run through the machinations of appeal given him. He well represented his Scottish heritage.

    • I too give the young Mr Will credit for accepting the decision; I also give the same credit to the school board for upholding the dress code. BUT the young man missed the opportunity to ague for a change to the dress code as well as the school board not taking the opportunity to change the dress code or at the very lest take it to the next meeting and have the dress code updated.

      A school is a learning institution, witch so happens to be in a country that was made up of immigrants’ from all countries. Even though we are Americans we should not forget or deny our roots. Doing so would be forgetting why this country was founded in the first place.

      All cultures should be recognized, isn’t that why we have multicultural festivals in the first place?

      As long as the attire is appropriate and formal, then in my opinion a high school prom is a good first step in displaying and encouraging our young men and women to never be ashamed of their ancestry.

  37. Seriously? The school told Mr. Carruba he could not wear his kilt, they said, they “want to teach the men to dress like men.”? Try telling that to Sean Connery and you’ll get a punch in the nose 😛

  38. i know this kid. it’s not because he’s scottish he is making a JOKE!!! he has no respect for authority. maybe that’s why none of our school officials are taking it seriously. he needs to grow up and learn that maybe if he wouldnt play around people would take him seriously!!!

    • i probaly should grow up no doubt but my ansetry is no joke an i dont take it as one as i type this i sent in a room surrounded by my family history there storys the battles they fought an the fredom they on in my religion i am mormon we are taught to respect are ancestry an i have all my life i cant say im perfect because im not i cant say im a straight a student but i cant i try but i cant but dont tell me this is a joke because i look forward to passing from this side of life to the other after a long life an telling them thank you for paving the way to a better life for me and all of the people who have the freedoms we do

  39. As a Scottish-American and as a Sutherland this has my blood bowling!! All over I see African culture, Muslim culture and many more allowed to practice what they call heritage and wearing the cultures garb but when a scot puts on a kilt they say ” we are trying to teach or men to dress like men” I dare anyone on the board to show up to a highlands game and participate and then see who I a real man!! Any little prick can wear a suit but it takes a man to wear a kilt!

  40. My wife and I and a fair number of friends gather every year for a Robert Burns celebration. Those of Scottish heritage often wear kilts, sporrans, and such. We drink a lot of Scotch whiskey, eat a big dinner with regular and (for us vegetarians) vegetarian Haggis, and then all read Burns’ poetry, usually with a really bad Scottish accent! It’s fun, and helps us keep in touch with our roots. The pinheads at this school, and the school board, should bow their heads in shame, and be forced to toss a few cabers whilst wearing a kilt, just so they know what REAL men wear to public exhibitions!

  41. He’s a good Scotsman for tucking tail and accepting “authority”? WTF dude!

    I don’t know this kid, his reasoning or whatever. But *nobody* is good simply because they “accepted authority”.

    I’m sure I don’t have to spell out why that is the case.

  42. I love to see men in kilts, I too am of Scottish heritage however I do agree with the school board. This is a school prom, an AMERICAN school prom, not an ethnic prom. Why must it be important to show pride in his heritage at a special event, to stand out and be the cente rod attention maybe? If its so important to him why is he not fighting to wear a kilt to school everyday, or to the homecoming dance last fall? Does he go to all the ‘formal’ Scottish events to show his pride in his heritage? A month ago if any one of you had been asked to write up a dress code can ANY of you HONESTLY say that you would have said Ethnic formal attire permitted? I think not – if you were truly honest with yourself or with this forum. It gets so old to hear “anything slash American” if you were born here, live here, you a an AMERICAN period. I personally think everyone is entitled to know their heritage and celebrate it but dont force your heritage down my throat. We have become so politically correct about so much I wonder how many people these days just simply proclaim to be “an American” without having to identify the multiple cultures our ancestors hailed from. I say good for you Granite City School Board for setting a policy and sticking to it under fire!

  43. you haven’t seen glory in a kilt until you see Christopher Lee in full dress kilt.

    And my WWII Marine Vet stepfather.

    And the City of Dunedin Florida.

  44. I am of Cherokee Indian heritage, also German, Swiss, French, English ans Scottish heritage. If I wanted to celebrate MY heritage by wearing a full formal Warrior outfit complete with head-dress or if I wanted to celebrate my German heritage by wearing a formal Nazi attire would you al have the same opinion? I think not. Did this young man seek to wear a kilt to any other function at any other time during high school? I think not or we would have heard about it then. Why wait til prom to stir it up – maybe so he can make a name for himself and draw attention to himself rather than actually being proud he’s part Scottish?!?! Hummmmm…….I agree with the decision the board made.

    • Honesty,

      I would support the acceptance of any formal attire that is actively in use by a recognized nation today. That would include the Cherokee Nation and the Scottish Nation.

    • Honestly, if you wanted to wear a Cherokee headdress, I’m fine with it. If you wanted to wear a Nazi uniform, I’d be against that, entirely on the grounds that you don’t get to wear a military uniform if you didn’t serve in that military. It would be equally inappropriate for you to wear a Canadian, British, or French military uniform if you hadn’t been in those militaries.

    • Insinuating that Nazi attire is an hereditary part of Germany is insulting. You should be ashamed of yourself.

    • not all Germans were Nazi and not all Nazi were German, i’d support your right to wear Lederhosen to prom, but to equate a kilt and a Nazi uniform is just ridiculous and troll like behavior.

    • wow! you must not have gone to your prom? Make a name for himself or draw attention?? Yes kilts draw attention. So does a tux and beautiful dresses the girls wear to prom.. Maybe you should look up the definition to prom. Its the right of a senior to look good at their prom. If your not going to look good at your prom why the hell go. Really??? Assuming any Scot is wearing a Kilt for any reason other than the pride he has for the Scottish blood that runs thru his veins is an insult!!!!!

      • Went to three proms actually, 10-12 grade. The point was, if he was sooo proud, why has he not wore the kilt to other school dances such at homecoming or any of the other school functions where kids dress up? He hasn’t. I have a kid in the school who is friends with him. Some of us in Granite City have info about his true intent. No one is knockIng being a Scott. Of course the Queen,etc… Wear kilts, they are part of her empire! We broke away from that empire. Simple fact is there is a dress code, kilts aren’t on it, school board made the correct decision imo

  45. A great deal of people in this country disgust me. They rather ignore and forget about their heritage and where they came from. Our ancestors built this country, and anyone who wants to proudly express there heritage especially someone so young should be applauded. Just because our history is in the past does not mean it is to be forgotten. I live in the city of Philadelphia and proudly wear my family kilt every chance i can.

  46. Don’t stop the fight until this issue is resolved. Bigotry and hypocrisy are never acceptable solutions.

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