Gina Vaynshteyn
May 21, 2015 1:41 pm

On the last day of her senior year (and her last day of high-school EVER!), Evette Reay decided to wear an extra-fancy dress. Reay told the local news station ABC8, “It was my last day of school. I wanted to feel good about myself. I was fixing to be a woman in this world that was conquering anything.” Fair enough, right?

Well, not exactly. When one of the student’s teachers saw her wearing the mint colored dress that fell a few inches above her knees, he told her she needed to go home and change. According to Seventeen, Reay said “no” to her teacher, thinking his reaction was a bit drastic. While it’s (for the most part) not cool to argue with your teachers and adult mentors, we’re confused by the actions he took next. Instead of allowing Reay to call her mother and ask for a new outfit, he told her he was calling the school’s superintendent and threatened to withhold her high-school diploma due to insubordination.

Reay states, “They took me to the extreme and (told me) you’re suspended. I realize I told you no, but after I talked to my school board member about that, he was like, ‘You had every right to say no.'”

Furthermore, it’s unclear whether Reay even broke any rules or challenged the established dress code. According to ABC8, Reay’s mother (Michelle Reay) “feels the school didn’t follow its own guidelines in its handbook.” West Side High School’s handbook (vaguely) instructs students to dress “appropriately,” (no mention of dress length or design), and if a student IS inappropriately clothed, “they have to call home to arrange for appropriate clothing. The school could also provide clothing to wear that day.”

None of that happened that day. Both Reay and her mom thought it was pretty uncalled for to turn to such intense measures. But aside from the intensity of the punishment, the idea of sending a student away from her educational institution is, in fact, problematic. It’s sending the message that a student’s worth is based on the clothes they wear, that their appearance is much more important than their education — and that’s not OK. Reay’s mom said, “It was very hard for a mother, I have watched my daughter for four years of high school put her all into her education.” And we get that. A suspension stays on a student’s permanent record, a record that can be viewed by universities.

LUCKILY, a high-school board trustee is working on expunging Reay’s suspension from her record. However, this is an incident that shouldn’t have gotten this out of hand. Sexualizing young girls and telling them that covering up their bodies is more valuable than education isn’t the right message school’s should be sending out.

(Image via ABC8)

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