By Julie Zauzmer - The Washington Post
Cady Mansell has always had a strong sense of fashion. At 9 years old, she likes trying on makeup and painting her nails. She likes shopping trips to Chicago with her fashion-conscious mother. And since she asked for her first bow tie during one of those trips to the mall when she was just 4 years old, Cady has had a thing for snazzy suits.
When it came time for her First Communion, a major event for Cady, she naturally started thinking early about what she wanted to wear on the big day. She settled on a brand-new all-white suit.
"It kind of sparkles in the sunlight," she enthused when she tried it on.
But then word got out at her Catholic school about Cady's planned attire. School officials told Cady's parents that she couldn't participate in First Communion with the rest of her class unless she wore a skirt or dress. And when the Mansells dug in their heels, insisting that their daughter should wear the outfit she had picked out for her special day, the argument escalated quickly — to the point that the Mansells pulled their daughters out of the school and the church altogether...
The Rev. Sammie Maletta, the priest at St. John the Evangelist, told the Mansells that a deacon at the church could administer Cady's First Communion privately, but that she couldn't attend the ceremony with the rest of her classmates unless she wore a dress or skirt. Cady was upset by that; she wanted to sit with her friends...
In Chris' telling, Maletta said: "You're raising your daughter wrong. You're setting bad examples for her. She doesn't have the brain development and maturity to decide if she wants to wear a suit. It's your job as a parent to say, 'You're not wearing a suit. You're wearing a dress.' If you won't do this, you're raising your daughter wrong..."