The Battle of the Kilt!

Mark Sutherland hosting the 2012 Robert Burns Dinner in St. Louis, MO, for more than 225 people.
Mark Sutherland hosting the 2012 Robert Burns Dinner in St. Louis, MO, for more than 225 people.

It was a battle lasting just a few days in the St. Louis, USA, area, and it probably won’t go down in the annuls of Scottish history. But for the Scottish community in St. Louis, and the thousands of people who join with us throughout the year to celebrate the many profound connections between America and Scotland, it was an opportunity to stand for Scotland and to stand with a fellow Scot.

Many people from around the world have been following this skirmish, and many of them took action with e-mails and phone calls. Here’s a full summary of what happened.

On March 17, a student at Granite City High School, just outside St. Louis, USA, posted on his Facebook page that “I was denied wearing my kilt to prom because they want to teach the men to dress like men. That is what I was told. I’m very upset.”

As a side note, the principal, who was attributed with the comment about “dressing like men,” denied saying it. One other student did confirm he said it, so on that issue it depends on who you choose to believe.

On March 19, the denied student began asking people to call the High School, and also appealed the original decision that prevented him from wearing his kilt to the prom. He had apparently recently purchased the full formal Scottish outfit, the same as that worn by Prince Charles, Prince William, Sean Connery and other Scots to informal events like knightings, royal weddings, and dinners at Buckingham Palace. We can definitely see why the kilt does not rise to the high dress standards of a high school prom.

The student was denied again by the school, and decided to appeal to the school board. He also reached out to the Scottish community in St. Louis.

On March 26, I found out about it.

I posted a blog that day, encouraging people to contact the school to voice their concerns. It went viral with more than 15,000 reads so far.

March 27 was the school board meeting. People arrived in kilts to stand in solidarity with the student. Some sought to speak at the meeting. However, the district superintendant announced the pre-determined decision of the board that spoke of the kilt being “non-traditional,” not within dress code, and “not what we call normal wear.” Apparently, it escaped their attention that the kilt predates the invention of pants, and that it is far more traditional than today’s tuxedos.

It was a very disappointing outcome, and one that most people commenting online see as wrong.

So what next? The story has been covered in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the Associated Press, UPI, the Daily Mail in the UK, on the Mark Reardon Show on KMOX Radio, and by various print and broadcast media across the US.

First, April 6 is Tartan Day in the U.S., followed by Scotland Week. I strongly encourage you to come out to your local celebrations and stand for Scotland and enjoy many of the things Scotland in America has to offer. If you are in Missouri, you can get more information on the celebrations taking place in St. Charles on the second weekend of April at

Second, we are going to petition the Granite City School District Superintendent to change their formal dress code to allow for culturally and nationally-recognized formal wear. I would encourage you to add your name to this petition, and to let others know also.


  1. Racism is racism. I am confident that if another ethnic group was involved, the school board would not dare make such a ruling. If an African American wanted to wear a traditional fugu, what would the ruling be? If an Arab American student wanted to wear a Keffiyeh I am certain he would not be denied this right. Whatever happened to the Constitution?

      • Hmm, you are in agreement with Michael, which means that other ethnic groups have challenged their rights under the US Constitution and we do not care, which is evident in his response, asking, “Whatever happened to the Constitution?”
        Well, let me tell you what happened to the Constitution. We, the people, of these United States, have gone to sleep due to a drug that has been given us. What is that drug? Compliance, don’t rock the boat, be accepting, LOVE one another, we are all the same, … I’m from the government and I’m here to help…
        In the opening sentence of the Constitution it reads; “We the People of the United States,” notice that this opening declaration has no commas, semicolons or colons… it is one declaration, true and binding.
        We the People of the United States… that is you and me… our neighbors… those that we go to church with…
        We are the government… and consequently, we should not fear, nor accept the decisions of, those who are employed by us…
        We, The People, Of The United States, should replace them if they do not perform to OUR standards.

  2. As a proud member of the Campbell Clan, wearing the colors of the Black Watch, I am appalled at the ruling of the school board, much less the meek acceptance of the young man to the ruling. Let me say this; if Sir William Wallace had acquiesced to King Edward as quietly as this young man… he probably would have lived a long life. Instead, he chose to fight for “FREEDOM” and was hanged, drawn and quartered. I do not imagine that this young man would have faced the same consequence had he decided to stand up for his freedom. “Ne Oblisviscaris”

  3. Tinker V. Des Moines 1969
    “undifferentiated fear or apprehension of disturbance is not enough to overcome the right to freedom of expression and school authorities must accept ”
    United States Supreme Court

  4. I would like to see pictures of last year’s prom, just to see what sort of “traditional” clothing was worn. Would there be an objection to any other national dress, sari, charro suit, dashiki, etc?

  5. Being of Scottish descent, I take exception to the school’s ruling. My ancestors are the ones who built this country, and “political correctness” is trying to destroy it. I think that young man should be applauded for showing appreciation for his heritage. Let him wear his kilt. I wear mine and do so proudly.

  6. Ladies love a man in a kilt. Perhaps they’re afraid all the other boys won’t get any attention?

  7. NOW TAKING DONATIONS!!! As a tribute to William Carruba’s valiant attempt to Fight For the Kilt, we are NOW accepting donations for William’s tux. Monies spent on his handsome kilt are not available for tux rental, so PLEASE HELP WITH RENTAL OF A TUX AND FABULOUS GORDON TARTAN ACCESSORIES.
    Please send donations in care of
    Carrie Nelson 847 Mc Intosh Dr. Granite City, Il 62040

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