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Just days before the communion, on September 27, her school, St. John the Evangelist Parish in St John, Indiana, told her that she would be uninvited to the communion if she came wearing the outfit
Nine-year-old Cady Mansell was very excited. October 1, Sunday, was supposed to be the fourth-graders First Holy Communion and it was a big deal for her. She had eagerly waited for it for months, even planning what she’d wear on the day in great detail.
However, all the planning was for naught. Just days before the communion, on September 27, her school, St. John the Evangelist Parish in St John, Indiana, told her that she would be uninvited to the communion if she came wearing the outfit that she had picked out weeks in advance.
So what was so offensive about the outfit Cady had picked? Well, it was an all-white pantsuit and not a dress. The suit, the school claimed, was is in breach of dress code rules.
Cady had got her “sparkling white” suit tailored to fit her just right. And news that she won’t be allowed to participate in the sacrament if she wore the pantsuit left her shattered and heartbroken. Cady’s mother, Chris Mansell, was devastated that her daughter was denied the right to attend her First Holy Communion just because she preferred pants to dresses.
Days later, on October 10, she took to Facebook-based forum Pantsuit Nation to share her child’s grief. In her post, which quickly went viral, Chris revealed that she and her family pulled Cady and her sister out of the Catholic school and even left the church as a result of the incident.
“My nine-year-old daughter attends a Catholic school and is supposed to be making her First Communion this Sunday. She has a love for suits and wears them often. Since there wasn’t initially a dress code given for the event, we assumed she could wear a suit. We went all out and made a weekend out of finding her the perfect outfit … one that makes her feel beautiful and confident,” Chris wrote.
“Unfortunately, her school and church heard about the suit and told us today, three days before the event, that my daughter is uninvited to attend First Communion as long as she plans on wearing a suit because it violates the dress code that was just released last week. My sweet girl is heartbroken,” she added.
“My daughter just wants to wear pants while worshipping the Lord and receiving the Eucharist with her classmates,” Chris wrote in the post. “She’s not hurting anyone. However, being excluded and ostracized IS hurting her.”
“Excluding children from their peers over a pair of pants is not how you make lifelong Catholics,” she wrote, sharing a photo of her daughter in her pant suit. “Making children feel bad about being different is how you create bullies, addicts, suicide victims. I refuse to be a part of it.”
“My daughter, her sisters, my family will not forget this.”
The last straw for the Mansells came when the parish priest reportedly accused Chris and her husband Richard of being bad parents during a private meeting.
“The priest told us we are raising our daughter wrong and that we should make her dress feminine because she doesn’t have the brain development and maturity to make decisions about how to dress,” Chris shared.
“We are NOT leaving because Cady wanted to wear a suit for her First Communion. We ARE leaving because Father Maletta decided to tell my husband that we are raising our daughter wrong for letting her choose how to dress,” Chris wrote.
School administrators also gave the family a choice: Either Cady wears a dress to the communion, or she could have a separate, private ceremony without her friends and classmates. “She can’t sit with her classmates. She can’t be in any group photos,” Chris said. “If she wears a suit, we have to pretend like my daughter doesn’t exist.”
She later told Huffington Post that she was enraged with the way the priest judged her parenting abilities, especially since he was not a physician, psychologist, or even a parent.
Cady has loved suits since she was just four, her mother Chris revealed. “Cady was really excited about the suit. We made a big deal about getting it, just as I do when I take my teenage daughter to get her prom dress. She was so proud of it,” mom Chris told Yahoo.
Cady didn’t think twice about wearing a suit for her big day, after all the dress code released to the students on August 16 only mentioned that girls could not wear spaghetti straps and had to wear a white sweater over the straps, a Daily Mail report said.
On September 21, after learning about Cady’s fashion choice, the school released another dress code notice, this time with more specific regulations regarding the girls’ outfits.
However it wasn’t until a few days before communion that the participants were told all young ladies had to wear dresses—and at that point Cady already had her heart set on the suit, the Daily Mail report said.