High school students are outraged over a dress code that prevents them from exposing their “underarms.”
Per the dress code at Andress High School in El Paso, Texas, students are prevented from wearing: Sleepwear, skirts that are shorter than the mid-thigh, tops with spaghetti straps, military belts, or tank tops that expose the underarm, the latter of which isn’t further clarified.
On Tuesday, students attempted to stage an on-campus protest over what they’re calling a “sexualizing” rule, but administrators told them to meet with the principal instead. A representative from Andress did not return Yahoo Style’s call for comment, however, senior student Michaela James told El Paso local news station ABC-7, “They’re humiliating us by taking us out of class and that says our education is not as important as what we are wearing.” Worse, she adds, the dress codes unfairly focus on women, suggesting that “girls are the distraction and we need to change instead of teaching guys to focus on their work or whatever. So, they’re making us leave class and making us change and adapt to what is better and more convenient for the guys.”
She adds, “They’re basically sexualizing body parts — like our shoulders. If we show any part of our shoulders, that’s offensive to them and we’re asked to change.” Raymond Calero, a junior at Andress, also told ABC-7 that a female student was removed from calculus class because of her short-shorts. “She missed a whole period of calculus because she was deemed to be too sexual, which infuriates me,” he said. “They stress that our education is so important, yet they take us out, and we miss a whole period. There has to be other ways to do this.”
Despite research that shows school dress codes and uniforms yield “inconclusive and mixed” results most schools in the United States issue some sort of clothing guide to students along with strict consequences for those who break it.
In August, after a Kansas middle school student was pulled out of class and ordered to wear sweatpants over her leggings because her shirt wasn’t long enough, the school updated its dress code policy to ban leggings. That same month, a pair of twins was stopped in the hallway of their Oklahoma high school for wearing short-sleeved dresses that ended mid-thigh. Their outfits were causing “concern” due to the risk of their school bags pulling up the back of their skirts as they walked.
In February, an autistic boy named Max who has a sensory processing disorder and needs to wear soft, cotton clothing was turned away from a middle school dance for wearing a sweat suit, instead of formal clothing. After his peers discovered why he didn’t attend, they showed up at school the following Monday wearing sweatpants and launched a social media movement called #MaxItMonday.
Even schools without formal dress codes are penalizing students for what they consider clothing violations. In September, a 9-year-old girl in Missouri was given an in-house suspension for wearing a V-neck Minnie Mouse T-shirt to Brookhaven Elementary School. The girl’s uncle, who posted about the incident on Facebook, says the girl’s attire was not the real issue. “My niece may not be the ideal weight, but she was not showing anything inappropriate,” he wrote on Facebook. And in March, a 13-year-old girl who wore an off-the-shoulder shirt to school says teachers gave her “looks that made me uncomfortable in my own skin,” prompting her to voluntarily change her shirt.
While there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with dress codes, some claim they focus too much on girls’s clothing or hold female students to a higher standard than boys, subsequently promoting rape culture, which normalizes the sexualization of girls. For instance, in 2015, a student at a Virginia high school told a local news station that while both boys and girls wore athletic shorts to school, only girls were forced to wear sweatpants emblazoned with the words “Dress Code” as punishment. What’s more, one article of clothing can look different on various body types, blurring the lines between modesty and body shaming.
Many students are turning to social media to inspire change, with success — in November, three Maldon High School students in Massachusetts challenged their school for banning head wraps saying, “Head scarfs have been in the black community for a very long time. We wear them at home, in church, as a symbol of faith, and we wear them outside as something we are proud of.” In response, the school agreed with the students and subsequently revised its dress code policy. And in February, after a Minnesota high school ruled that female students would have to submit photos of their prom dresses for pre-approval, it backtracked, clarifying that the rule was “merely a suggestion.”
Read more from Yahoo Style + Beauty:
- United Airlines Tried to Bar Girls From Flight for Wearing Leggings
- A Dance Club Is Banning ‘Deplorable’ Dresses
- Hundreds of Girls Were Sent Home From School Because of Their Skirts