Dear School Community:

At our board meeting on March 15, I announced that all Hudson Senior High School graduates will be wearing the same color cap and gown this year. I want to take the time to explain this change and address concerns we have heard from some students and families.

The purpose of graduation is to stand together as one class and to focus on the accomplishments of all students. High Schools across the United States have been moving to gender-neutral gowns for over a decade.

I recognize that Hudson CSD has had a long history of having boys and girls wear different color caps and gowns and that this change may be upsetting for some. However, it is important that the District works to eliminate gender-based practices that could have the effect of marginalizing, stigmatizing, stereotyping, or excluding students, which includes differing the color of one’s cap and gown based on gender. We want all students to feel safe and supported, especially on a milestone occasion like graduation.

We also want to make sure that the District is following state and federal law and guidance. This change is consistent with New York State’s Dignity for All Students Act (DASA), which expanded requirements for tolerance and respect to include “sexual orientations, gender identity, and sexes” among groups protected from discrimination and harassment.

Looking back, I wish we had more time to engage the school community on this topic. While I did engage in conversations with some students, parents, administration, and faculty, I did not canvas the entire senior class and their parents. Ultimately, this was a time-sensitive decision that needed to be made due to the time constraints for completing our gown order while conforming with state law and guidance.

Since becoming superintendent last month, I have scheduled and attended meetings with many individuals and groups to learn more about the district and to discuss how we can leverage our partnerships and talents to better serve our students. I appreciate everyone’s feedback, including those students who said it was time for Hudson to make this change.

While it can be difficult to change traditions, it is ok to start new ones. Our students will vote on the emblems that will be embroidered on the stoles. Additional information will be shared by the high school in the coming weeks.

We look forward to celebrating the class of 2022 and everything it stands poised to accomplish in the future.


Dr. Lisamarie Spindler