In a strange parody of the NFL draft, a California high school is mimicking the football pool with a “prom draft” for young men to choose their dates for the big dance. Junior and senior boys draw numbers that match them with girls. They can even buy higher draft picks. The kids think it is a lot of fun, but adults are not so thrilled.
Corona Del Mar High School is in Newport Beach, California, and this is the second year for the prom draft. Principal Kathy Scott has emailed parents, asking them to discourage their kids from participating, but says she does not believe the activity is intended to be harmful. She does say it is not behavior that lives up to the school’s outstanding reputation. However, a former school official says it is typical of Newport Beach’s entitlement culture.
The prom draft works by having the high school boys draw numbers. Lower numbers have better odds of getting a prom date with the girl of their choice, with first-round picks sold NFL-draft style. According to one student, a junior boy paid $140 to buy a higher draft pick so as to improve his chances of getting a date with a specific girl. The student, not identified because he would face school disciplinary action, says it ended up being awkward because the girl is someone the other student does not normally talk to. And the girl apparently feels awkward that he chose her.
A junior girl at the California high school said female students are free to refuse a date assigned through the NFL-style prom draft, but most girls go along with the system. She said she did not feel it was objectifying women, even though the activity is labeled as a draft. Others disagree. Vice president of the school district Martha Fluor said it is objectifying and degrading the female students, and that it is unethical and immoral to treat them this way.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has already gotten involved with Corona Del Mar High School at least once. In 2009 they sued the school for fostering a sexist and homophobic atmosphere after three male athletes used Facebook to “out” a gay student, threaten to rape and kill a female student, and use homophobic slurs.
Some girls are upset with the draft, although the complaints are not what might be expected. In last year’s draft some girls were upset because the boys were asking sophomore girls instead of juniors. One girl said that in some cases girls are picked by their appearance, but that it is all just a fun way to figure out who goes to the prom with who. One of the boys involved said that when girls ask guys out they usually base their choice on looks.
The same school was also the subject of a recent cheating scandal that caused the expulsion of 11 students after district officials determined that they had hacked the school’s computer system to access tests and change grades. While there are no plans to expel students who participate in the prom draft, the California high school students could face suspension, particularly if money was exchanged, indicating one major difference in this and the NFL.
By Beth A. Balen