SAGE Club’s Take on Dr. Harriton


The recently rebranded Dr. Harriton is scheduled for February 22nd, and the Students Advocating for Gender Equality club (SAGE) is paying close attention to the revamping of the twelve-year-old show previously known as Mr. Harriton. The name change triggered negative feedback from a plurality of Harriton students, including the Gender and Sexuality Alliance club (GSA). SAGE, however, has a different perspective on the situation.

Club sponsor Ms. Wilson-Harvey says, “SAGE empowers people to live their best lives and to be accepting of people who are different. The challenge is to not assume but to ask questions and learn.” The club’s name suggests a focus on gender equality, but SAGE has taken action on other interconnected social-justice issues, such as racism, LGBTQ rights, and toxic masculinity.

SAGE believes that Harriton’s changing of Mr. Harriton’s name does not accomplish the goals on their club agenda. SAGE member Anna Mai, a sophomore, believes that “Just because the name changes doesn’t mean the sexist traditions are going to change. Changing the name doesn’t change how people treat other people… Even as Dr. Harriton, the show itself is sexist.” SAGE is looking for a change in the production itself to include others, female and non-binary students, in its advertisements, performers, and final production.

The show has an audition process, but it cannot be denied that Mr. Harriton is an historically all-male competition. However, Lower Merion School District could not legally turn down anyone wanting to participate in the show, easing the possibility of a lawsuit. Many members of SAGE actually enjoyed the fact that the show made fun of traditional beauty pageants and their sexist nature, but now the context has changed.

The event has become a fun, feel-good occasion that raises money for charity, which girls and those who are non-binary should be welcomed to join. The disagreement over the name has alleviated, but what SAGE is really looking for is inclusivity and diversity in Dr. Harriton and steps towards full equity in the school environment, which involves ensuring that all students are provided with enriching experiences that promote their cultural, social, and emotional learning outcomes.