Though it’s been several years since I’ve walked the halls of grade school, hearing stories of the latest regulations on dress code are downright appalling. Honestly, if kids are going to be subjected to such outrageously biased and gender-specific standards why not just implement uniforms? This is getting out of hand and one sixth grader from Portland has had just about enough.
Sixth grade student Molly Neuner is challenging outrageous school dress codes in the best way.
According to the Portland Press Herald, King Middle School sixth grader Molly Neuner was reprimanded this week by a teacher for wearing a racerback-style purple tank top, which broke the school’s ridiculous dress code. The teacher allegedly made her and another female student measure their tank top straps and shorts in front of the entire class.
“She made us feel really uncomfortable,” Molly said. “It was really uncomfortable and weird.”
WTF. Is that really necessary? When I was in school, if we violated dress code we were pulled into the AP’s office and given a demerit, not publicly shamed in front of our peers.
When the teacher in question found that Molly’s tank top straps weren’t wide enough for regulation, she demanded that Molly cover up and warned her that the next violation would result in detention.
This is the so-called “inappropriate” tank top Molly wore:
SERIOUSLY? It just looks like a workout tank. Who could possibly be offended by that?
Molly rightfully found this to be an unjust and sexist rule. So, she decided to send a message.
A few days later, Molly deliberately wore a tank top to school that would break dress code.
On her arm, she wrote “#IAmNotADistraction,” a hashtag that has been previously used to call out other sexist school dress codes.
Molly’s mother showed her support for her daughter by posting the photo of her on Instagram.
In the caption why her daughter’s actions were so significant:
This girl… I have no words for her bravery… Today has been quite a day. We woke up to our strong, brave, beautiful girl on the front page of the paper. When we agreed to be part of the article, I thought that the article would be tucked in the back page of the opinion section. But instead, there she was, front and center standing up for herself for all to see. Some may read this and think it’s “just a strap” or that “rules were meant to be followed” or that “girls should cover up” or (my personal favorite) “it’s a distraction to boys.” But my question to you is, why? Why do you feel like this? Why do you jump to those conclusions? It’s because of what we are taught. We have been taught to mask our own feelings and stay small and not make waves. We are taught that our bodies are inherently sexual objects that WE need to cover so WE stay safe. Well, no longer my friends. We need to stand up for ourselves and our for children. We need to teach our beautiful, young, innocent daughters that their bodies are beautiful and powerful and their own to display or portray in any way they wish WITHOUT consequence. And we need to teach our young, kind, brave sons that they are smart and strong and capable of controlling their own bodies. And don’t even get me started on the issues of the LGBTQ kids who are completely overlooked on this issue. The other piece that this amazing story left out is that last week, the students in my daughter’s class had a meeting to review dress code. In that meeting there were many questions about the girls rules and when one of the students asked why the girls had so many rule they were told that it was because they were a distraction to the boys… I’ll let that sink in for a minute… And maybe you need another minute… It is 2017 after all. And while the school has assured us that this is not the opinion of the school, the dress code still stands in place until the end of the year. This is not just about a tank top, it’s about years of underlying messages of shame to our girls that MUST stop. #mybodymybusiness #iamnotadistraction #iammorethanadistraction
Other girls at Molly’s school were inspired by her brave actions and about 20 of them followed suit, wearing tops that also defied dress code.
Surprisingly, even teachers came up to Molly and voiced their support.
“My social studies teacher told us that it was super cool we were doing it, and that we were right, that we aren’t distractions,” Molly said in an interview with Mic. “She was super supportive of it, and our teachers were all super supportive. Then the principal called me into her office and we talked, and she said they would review the dress code at the end of the year.”
That same day, the school’s principal Caitlin LeClair announced that they would review the dress code in place with the students’ concerns in mind.
“We plan to take this feedback and use it as an opportunity to have some students’ and parents’ input,” LeClair told the Press Herald.
Molly isn’t satisfied with just a promise, though. She intends to make sure the principal follows through.
“I’m happy they’re going to look at it, but I want to make sure they really do it,” she told the Press Herald.