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Boys Should Be Able to Wear Senior Shirts

From the first Friday of school until the homecoming game in late October, students and teachers at Berkeley High School (BHS) will see many seniors, almost all girls, wearing “senior shirts”: baseball t-shirts with “senior” on the front and a goofy nickname on the back. According to Ms. Crawford, a BHS teacher teacher, the tradition started in 2011, with the infamous Barbecue Club and Shake and Bake contributing to the popularity of the tradition. The Baseball Tee idea comes from the movie Dazed and Confused, where there is a scene in which high school senior girls are hazing underclassmen in baseball tees that say “senior” on the front.

It is one of the few BHS traditions from the Rally Day era that remains, with Barbecue Club being banned and Rally Day and Senior Streak currently being fought over by students and administration.

This may be because the tradition spans across all backgrounds, races, and ethnicities, unlike Barbecue Club or Shake and Bake. As the BHS community has become more and more accepting to different interpretations of gender and sexual identity, boys have become more comfortable with partaking in a tradition that has traditionally been for girls only.

The senior shirts have historically been worn by girls, while most boys don’t have a go-to special dress-up on Fridays. In Dazed in Confused, only girls are wearing the senior shirts. If it’s true that that is where the tradition was taken from, it makes sense that girls would begin the tradition and wear the shirts. BHS Senior Sadie Lamon thinks it’s quite simple: “I honestly think boys don’t want to [wear senior shirts] because they think it’s girly, and they don’t want to be associated with that.” That may be the reason for some boys.

It makes sense to me; it’s a tradition that’s historically for girls, and boys don’t want to wear them, possibly in fear of being made fun of (because being a girl is such a tragedy, right?).

I also think some senior boys simply don’t want to intrude on a tradition that was (probably) started by girls. The first time BHS students have seen a good amount of boys partaking in the senior shirt tradition was last year, and I think it’s because there is simply less of a stigma nowadays to take a part in the tradition.There is certainly room for boys in the tradition. If they wish to partake in it, the re’s no reason they shouldn’t — it’s a fun way to show some school spirit. It’s also a harmless way to celebrate being a senior, unlike some other senior-only friday activities.

I was talking to my mom, a psychologist who specializes in the gender spectrum and trans kids, and she said how it’s possible that with a more accepting community students are a lot more willing to dress as they please without the fear of being ridiculed for what she calls being “gender expansive.”   Another fellow BHS student, Arturo Verdin, summed up the mentality that most of the community has for this tradition quite well: “…I don’t really think it matters, they’re not hurting anyone…if anything they just want to be part of the tradition and express themselves”. Amen to that.

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