Middle school girls launch a powerful petition to stop sexist dress codes

The school dance dress code for Mason Middle School in Tacoma, Washington is as follows: there are no spaghetti straps or strapless dresses allowed. Skirts must fall within three inches of a girl’s knees. There can be no mesh, lace, or fishnet material in a girl’s outfit. Oh, and you’re not allowed to show your shoulders.

This last rule really irked eighth-grader Kenzie Sollars whose dream dress, a robin’s egg blue number splashed with purple roses, the kind of outfit that seems perfect for a picnic or tea party, is a dress she cannot wear to her school’s end of the year dance because it is a halter dress and therefore in direct violation of her school’s dance dress code.

“It’s saying that all girls’ body parts are a distraction, which makes no sense,” 14-year-old Kenzie said, commenting on the code to the Tacoma News-Tribune. “It’s objectifying women. And it’s also saying boys can’t control themselves.”

To make matters more annoying, none of the dress code rules focus on men’s wear. For example, girls have to wear “dressy” pants if they want to forego skirts, but there is no rule stating that boys pants have to be dressy. Boys aren’t mentioned in the dress code at all.

The other girls at her school were none too pleased with the double-standard of their school’s dress code and so they did what so many people in this day and age do when they need to rally some troops: she started a Change.org petition.

“This dress code is policing girls clothing so as not to be distracting to boys,” the petition states. “Instead of shaming girls into covering up, we should teach boys to be gentlemen and respect girls.”

At the moment, the petition is about 90% of the way towards reaching its signature goal—with 468 supporters from around the world rallying behind the middle schoolers.

Meanwhile, Tacoma Public Schools spokeswoman Elle Warmuth defends the dress code, explaining that the school wants “…the students to focus on the social enjoyment of the event, and not the clothing,” It sounds like the students won’t be able to focus on the social enjoyment of the event until their school fixes its double standard and stops objectifying its female students. Let’s hope the school works with its student population to revamp its dress code so it feels fair. As 13-year-old Mason Middle Schooler Audrey Elliott awesomely puts it in the video below, “It’s just shoulders. Everyone has them.”

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