Kathryn Lindsay
May 20, 2015 12:22 pm

One day in 8th grade, I was leaving my school’s cafeteria after lunch. Just before I left the room, the principal called me over and made me put my hands by my thighs. She was testing to see if my skirt was too short. It ended up being fine — but that’s not what’s important. I was a straight-A student. I wrote for the school newspaper and won the “Language Arts” award the year before. But the first time my principle decided to acknowledge me was because of my skirt.

There’s something wrong with this picture, and that’s exactly what the students at Foothill High School in Pleasanton are protesting with their petition “Girls are students, not sexual objects. Remove item 4 of the dress code.” “Item 4” refers to the rule that states:

Here’s a bit of the petition, written by student Sanam Nawim:

There’s a new layer of ridiculousness that comes with this dress code. Not only are girls asked to change, but if this happens multiple times, they are also required to attend an after school class on “characteristics traits” which, one, is a redundant term (so take that!) but two, indicates that the school unequivocally believes that a girl’s character is directly correlated with what she wears. In other words, in the school’s eyes, revealing clothing indicates a lesser character.

This is an outdated mindset that sexualizes young girls while shaming them at the same time, telling them that their body is something that needs to be covered, that keeping their bodies hidden is more important that their education.

But, if you think about it, this is unfair to the guys as well. Removing girls from class under the guise of them being “distractions” means that the school thinks that the boys are predatory animals who can’t control themselves. Everybody is there to learn, but constantly shaming and policing students does a disservice to both genders.

If there are boys who get distracted by a bra strap, then it’s their attitude that needs changing, not the weather-appropriate shirt that the girl is wearing. The school should be teaching respect regardless of fashion, but it also sounds like this is a lesson they themselves could use learning. We stand behind this petition (I just signed it!) and hope it does just that.

(Image via)