10 Sexist, Slut-Shaming and All-Around Gross School Dress Code Enforcements

Students reported being told to wear skirts longer than the dress code actually required, with a side of being reminded that they were "gonna get raped" in the clothes they'd chosen.
Publish date:
June 17, 2014
sexism, school, dress codes, students, everyday sexism

Man, remember when summer used to signal a time of freedom? Now it's just like, great, I'm trapped indoors working while a bunch of screaming children run around outside, rubbing it in.

Well, it's not all fun and games for those kids today in late spring and early summer, because that's when the truly sexist dress code "violations" come into play, as teens adjust to the warming temperatures with seasonally appropriate clothing and adults flip their nut over how slutty they've all become. You think schools do audacious things with yearbooks -- check out what they do to kids, mostly girls, just trying to show up and get an education.

1. Violet Burkhart Sent Home In Tears On the Last Day of School

I mean, let's face it, it's not like anything really happens on the last day of school, but when you're a graduating senior, it's an important moment. This is it. The last time people are going to be all together in the same place, a sort of breaking point, a last-minute chance to get yearbooks signed. So of course, Miss Burkhart wanted to dress up for the occasion and celebrate summer...but school officials decided her dress was inappropriate, so they packed her home.

Violet's awesome mom retaliated: She wore the allegedly inappropriate dress to graduation in solidarity with her daughter.

2. Skanky Shoulders Alert

When it's hot, a tank-top is my preferred garment, and I'm not ashamed to say that my bra straps usually show. Apparently that wouldn't fly at Fisher Park Public School, where student Tallie Doyle was reprimanded for wearing just that outfit. Her mom took up in her defense, arguing that she shouldn't "feel ashamed about her bra straps showing."

What exactly is so scandalous about seeing shoulders and/or bra straps? Newsflash: Most people with breasts wear garments designed to support them.

3. "Modest is Hottest"

When 16-year-old Marion Mayer saw her principal spewing garbage like "boys will be boys," she tried to point out that this statement was incredibly sexist and gross. Pointing out that this kind of language actively encouraged rape culture and shamed young women, she started a Tumblr to discuss the dress code and challenge the man. She was offered a meeting with the big cheese, who attempted to mollify her with responses like "That's just your opinion" and "I'm sorry you feel that way."

4. It's Hot Outside. And In Here

Lindsey Stocker wanted an appropriate garment for a hot day, and shorts fit the bill. School officials felt otherwise, forcing her and other young women to stand up for a humiliating "outfit inspection" to determine if their skirts and shorts were "too short." Furious, she printed up flyers in protest, telling the school to stop shaming young women and teach boys that women aren't sex objects. For her trouble, she got suspended.

5. Leggings are "Too Distracting for Boys"

In Illinois, boys apparently find it incredibly difficult to be reminded that young women exist, and have legs. Students at Haven Middle School picketed over a dress code they targeted as sexist and shaming -- bans on leggings and yoga pants typically unfairly affect women and girls, while boys don't face similar dress code restrictions. A similar incident took place in Boston.

6. Skirts are for Girls, Silly

It's not just girls who get targeted with sexist dress code enforcement. Gender-variant people do too, as do sexual minorities, like Warren Evans, a bisexual student who felt like wearing a skirt to school one day. The school cited him for an infraction, despite his argument that the dress code only dictates skirt length, remaining silent on the gender of the wearer.

7. Selective Enforcement at Stuyvesant

In 2012, students at highly competitive and well-known Stuyvesant rebelled in the face of a bizarrely selective, sexist dress code enforcement policy in which individual girls were repeatedly singled out and shamed for what they were wearing -- even if it actually met the dress code standards. Students reported being told to wear skirts longer than the dress code actually required, with a side of being reminded that they were "gonna get raped" in the clothes they'd chosen.

8. Don't Distract the Boys, Ladies!

In a special briefing, Arkansas girls were told that they had an obligation to avoid distracting boys with things like panty lines, bra straps, or low-cut shirts. The dress code discussion was highly objectifying, angry parents pointed out, and students weren't too pleased either. As per usual, the school didn't hold a briefing for the boys reminding them to treat the girls like human beings, not sex toys.

9. Have Natural Hair? Cut it, or Leave School

12-year-old Vanessa VanDyke has a beautiful head of natural hair that she's very proud of, but her school insisted that she needed to cut it, or they'd expel her. Why? Because her parents reported that she was being bullied for her hair -- and the school shot back that her hair was "distracting." While she ultimately wasn't expelled, another Black student was. Another Black student had one of her braids cut by her teacher in class as a punishment.

10. Jessica Lahey Thinks Her Students are Skanks

In an infamous essay in The Atlantic last year, middle-school teacher Jessica Lahey went on an impassioned screed about the way her students dress and the trials and tribulations of a dress-code enforcer. Her objectifying, sexist essay made it sound like the young women in her care are deliberately wearing "revealing" clothing to play up their sex appeal -- as though this is something people shouldn't do in the first place -- eliding the fact that experimenting with fashion and dressing for comfort is a common experience for young women. In her concerntrolling over the souls of her students, one wonders whether she thought at all about the potentially crushingly sexist implications of shaming them for having bodies.