A teenage girl who was suspended from school recently for wearing denim short shorts has publicly challenged the school dress code, declaring it sexist.
Lindsey Stocker, an 11th-grader at Beaconsfield High School in Quebec, Canada, says that she and several female classmates were asked to stand up for an outfit inspection during class. The girls were instructed to put their arms by their sides so school officials could assess whether the bottom of their shorts or skirts lined up with their fingertips. If their fingers reached beyond their hemlines, the girls would be considered in violation of the school's dress code.
"When I started explaining why I didn’t understand that rule, they didn’t really want to hear anything I had to say, and it was in front of my entire class. I felt very attacked … and I wanted to tell them how I felt," Lindsey told Canadian news outlet CBC. "They should approach it in a way that doesn’t target girls at least — for starters — because that’s the first problem. They don’t really care what guys wear. They just kind of target the girls first."
After Lindsey failed the inspection, she left class and printed 20 sheets of paper that read, "Don’t humiliate her because she is wearing shorts. It’s hot outside. Instead of shaming girls for their bodies, teach boys that girls are not sexual objects.” Then she posted them around the school. Administrators removed the signs a short time later and sent Lindsey to the principal’s office, where she was given a one-day suspension. While the exact reasons for the suspension are unclear, according to Canadian radio show CJAD, it was for “multiple infractions.”
The school's website states that students are prohibited from wearing short shorts or skirts, halter tops, visible underwear, low-riding pants, clothing that’s torn, and anything that shows “excessive” cleavage or midriff, among other banned items.
Yahoo Shine could not reach Lindsey for comment; however, she told Canada's Global News, “There’s a huge rape culture that educational systems aren’t really paying attention to. They’re actually contributing to it without realizing it.”
Many rushed to the teen's defense on Twitter.
— With Trish (@WithTrish) June 1, 2014
The Lester B. Pearson School Board did not return Yahoo Shine’s calls for comments, however, a representative released a statement to BuzzFeed that read, “It needs to be clear that this is always an opportunity for the school to make it a learning situation for the students… To sensitize them about hypersexualization, which is often a topic that is discussed and the students are well aware of.”
According to Los Angeles-based child psychologist Fran Walfish, PsyD, prohibiting young girls from wearing especially short shorts is appropriate, especially if dress codes for boys are equally enforced. And while it’s admirable that Lindsey challenged what she feels are archaic gender rules, her actions may not be effective. “She could have written the school a respectful letter explaining her stance instead of speaking to the media,” Walfish tells Yahoo Shine. “Now, she put the school on the defense and it’s unlikely she’ll get the outcome she wants.”
Lindsey is the latest teenage trailblazer to defy her school dress code. In January, 16-year-old Marion Mayer, a student at Lakeland High School in Florida, stood up to her school's principal Arthur Martinez after he used the following phrases to describe the school dress code: “Modest is hottest” and “Boys will be boys.” In response, Mayer posted a photo of herself to Tumblr wearing a bikini top and holding a sign that read, “It’s alright. You’re a boy."
In the now-deleted post, Marion wrote, "When I asked him, in general, what the difference is between girls and boys, he said that boys 'misbehave more' and are 'outgoing.' He said that girls are 'reserved.' I told him that the phrases he used were sexist and stereotypical and unfair to all genders. I explained to him that many students and people of society were offended by what he said and the phrases he used. I told him that I thought he should apologize for what he said and explain to students and society that this kind of message is not okay or appropriate. He said he wouldn’t apologize for that, but he would give me an apology, which was ‘I’m sorry you feel that way.’”
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