Like many 17-year-olds, Aniya Wolf was looking forward to her junior prom.
The Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, high school student was looking forward to dancing the night away with her best friends and classmates at the May 6, 2016, formal. Aniya, who has always preferred pants to dresses, even purchased a new suit with her mom for the special occasion.
But things went south when administrators from her Catholic high school, Bishop McDevitt, heard Aniya was planning to wear a suit to the dance.
The school informed Aniya and her mother that if she chose to wear the suit, she would be asked to leave. The conversations and messages, which took place just hours before prom, mentioned that the dress code was clearly stated in a previous note to parents. However, Aniya’s mother, Carolyn Wolf, said the dress code never explicitly stated girls had to wear dresses.
Carolyn even sat down with the principal that afternoon, just to see if anything else could be done. And short of making her daughter wear a dress, there wasn’t.
“I can’t put a dress on her any more than I could put a dress on any of my sons,” Carolyn told Today. “That’s not who she is.”
With the dance rapidly approaching, Aniya decided to go for it and attend prom anyway. She barely made it past the ticket line before she was asked to leave by school officials who went as far as threatening to call the police.
The experience was painful and embarrassing for the teen.
“I felt humiliated, getting kicked out of prom,” she told Today. “I wasn’t going to hurt anybody with a suit.”
Aniya, who identifies as a lesbian, feels her school is singling her out because of her sexual orientation.
“It’s saying, ‘We don’t want you in our prom. You’re a freak of nature,'” she told Today.
It would be easy for Aniya to feel defeated, but people across the country have rallied behind her to show their support.
Women around the country donned suits and tuxedos and shared their photos using the hashtag #suitsforaniya.
Employees at Aniya’s local chapter of the YWCA were some of the first to participate.
Today, YWCA staff wore #suitsforaniya & no one was told to go home. We stand with @AniyaWolf #empowerwomen pic.twitter.com/mbIGrjXZYq— YWCA of Harrisburg (@YWCAHarrisburg) May 11, 2016
Double bassist Lauren Pierce showed off her dashing tux.
Professional soccer player Ashlyn Harris lent her voice to the effort.
Hey Bishop McDevitt HS… eat your heart out. @AniyaWolf nice suit 🙌🏽 https://t.co/tWdmlVBltg pic.twitter.com/evVhYwUB2u— Ashlyn Harris (@Ashlyn_Harris) May 10, 2016
And “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” creator Rob McElhenney even asked Aniya if she wanted a guest spot on the show.
Aniya, I love your suit. Would u like to wear it on Sunny? https://t.co/jn01iLrZVe via abc27News— Rob McElhenney (@RMcElhenney) May 12, 2016
But surely, one of the best reactions came from William Penn Senior High School.
Principal Brandon Carter invited Aniya and her date to the school’s prom on May 21.
“We embrace all,” he said in the invite.
It may not be the prom she had in mind, but hopefully it will be a fun, welcoming, night to remember.
Hear from Aniya and her mother about their experience in this short clip from ABC News.
You rock, Aniya! Have fun at prom (take two)!