Was Romney Enforcing Cranbrook's Dress Code?

Mitt Romney's so-called "gay-bashing" incident at high school may have been no more than an officially-sanctioned attempt to enforce the school's dress code, and not any kind of bullying, according to a former Cranbrook student who spoke exclusively to Breitbart News.

Mitt Romney was something of a failed high school athlete, but he had plenty of school spirit and led his prep school in cheers and worked the sideline at football games. It is that school spirit that probably led him to cut the hair of a fellow student in a prank gone wrong – a prank the Washington Post speculatively suggested was homosexual-bashing.

Cranbrook had a strict code of conduct, including a dress code. Boys at Cranbrook until the 1980s were required to wear a coat and tie. “School spirit meant supreme teamwork,” writes Kathryn Bishop Eckert in Cranbrook. “In observation of the dress code and the code of conduct students dressed and behaved as young gentlemen.” Even today, Cranbrook Kingswood Upper School maintains a strict dress code relative to other prep schools: jeans are forbidden. On Mondays (so-called Formal Dress Day) boys still wear a dress shirt with a tie and girls have to wear dresses or dressy tops with skirts. This is not uncommon. Many prep schools across the country ban dyed hair, even today.

Clay Matthews, today Cranbrook’s director of public relations and communications, noted that it was likely that dyed hair was prohibited from Cranbrook in 1965 under the school’s code of contact.

Romney clearly conformed to the dress code, and to the code of conduct. Lauber clearly did not. Unlike Romney, Lauber was known as a nonconformist who walked around campus with bleached-blond hair in what Romney probably correctly saw as a violation of the school’s dress code. That Romney did it within the sight of Matthew Friedemann, the school’s prefect to whom he complained about Lauber, indicates that Romney thought of himself as merely enforcing the rules (at prep schools in those days, prefects maintained order and discipline, often in exchange for discounted room and board). 

The fact that Romney was not disciplined by the administration in the aftermath of the incident is further evidence that Romney was enforcing the dress code overzealously, rather than targeting Lauber for any perceived homosexuality.

“Boys will be boys,” the saying used to be. That is, unless they decide to run for President as a Republican. Then it is fair game, and the gloves are off for the media hack job.


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