Darcy Krueger, 17, was turned away from the Tampa Bay Homeschool Homecoming Dance last month for wearing a jumpsuit instead of a dress.
The teen, donning a black evening jumpsuit and strappy silver heels, traveled nearly an hour from her home in Lakeland to the Orlo House and Ballroom in Tampa where the event was held, only to be refused entry.
Melissa Krueger, her mother, tried multiple times to no avail to convince an event organizer, Stephanie Voth, to allow her daughter to attend after receiving a panicked call from the teen shortly after dropping her off.
Another mother even offered to lend Darcy Krueger an extra dress she had in her car, but she told the Tampa Bay Times that she didn’t want to support a “rule I didn’t believe in.”
“You think, wow, it’s 2019 — women wear pants all the time,” Melissa Krueger told the Tampa Bay Times after the incident. “But you show up at a semi-formal event wearing pants, all of the sudden you can’t go in.”
The dress code suggested “semi-formal dresses for young ladies” with an emphasis on attire being “conservative.” The dress code discouraged “dresses that are too revealing and that are simply too short,” but it didn’t explicitly say girls could not wear pants. It did, however, say that “you will not be allowed in if your dress is questionable.”
“The problem is a jumpsuit does not constitute a dress,” Voth, who was wearing pants at the event, told the Tampa Bay Times after the incident. “And the very first line of it is, girls wear dresses.”
Melissa Kreuger also told the Tampa Bay Times that she saw other students at the dance wearing dresses that appeared to violate the dress code, which she said at its heart was about “modesty.”
So Melissa Krueger took her frustration to Facebook that night.
“My daughter was just denied entrance because her dress attire has a crotch in it,” she wrote in the Sept. 27 Facebook post. “Tell me this isn’t semi formal attire. The lady who wouldn’t let her in had pants on and refused to look at my screen shot of the dress code. Darcy’s upset and so am I. The dress code didn’t mention pant suit dress attire for ladies. Feeling awful. #seniorhocoruined”
The post gained some traction, with 53 shares as of Thursday, and Krueger told the Tampa Bay Times that she’d gotten calls from reporters in Australia and the U.K.
Since Melissa Kreuger’s initial Facebook post, the story has appeared on Yahoo, TODAY and CNN.
In a follow-up post on Oct. 6, she said she had mostly gotten positive feedback, but still dealt with some negativity.
“Ladies and gentlemen, if you do not understand that in 2019 a young lady should not be obligated to wear a dress (an outfit with one opening for both legs) in order to gain entrance into a semi-formal or formal event, including a HIGHSCHOOL HOMECOMING DANCE (private or public) then I don’t know how to help you,” she wrote.
While Voth wouldn’t let Darcy Krueger into the dance, she did give the family a $50 refund, despite the rules saying no refunds would be given.
Voth, who told the Tampa Bay Times she had otherwise avoided media outlets, has faced consequences for not letting the teen into the dance.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, Voth, who has an event planning business, deleted the Facebook page for both her business and the Tampa Bay Homeschool Homecoming Dance after receiving a string of negative comments.
After holding a meeting, which Melissa Krueger told the Tampa Bay Times she was not invited to, Voth and a group of other parent volunteers decided to uphold the dress code.
Darcy Krueger may not have gotten her homecoming dance, but she did get a professional photo shoot — in the jumpsuit, of course — out of the ordeal. Jennie Ellis, a local photographer, offered to photograph the teen in her jumpsuit free of charge after the news went viral. And now those photos have become a viral sensation on their own.
On her website, Ellis says six times a year she offers a free photo shoot to families and organizations “who could not otherwise afford it.