Monroe County middle schoolers say dress code shames and humiliates girls

Posted at 12:43 AM, May 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-18 00:43:08-04

MONROE COUNTY, Ind. -- A group of Monroe County girls is fighting back against a dress code they say shames and humiliates female students.

The six Tri-North Middle School students launched a protest that has now turned into a campaign to protect young girls for years to come.  

The girls call the dress code incidents some of the “most embarrassing” times of their lives.

“A male administrator dress coded me because he could see my bra strap,” said Olivia.

The more stories the girls heard, the more they recognized the common theme: public shame and humiliation for wearing shirts, dresses and shorts that broke the school’s dress code.

“The teacher came over to me, and she put her arm on my leg and said ‘these are too short young lady,’” said Solveig.

Tri-North Middle School’s dress code prohibits spaghetti strap tops and shorts that are shorter than the tip of the student’s middle finger with her arms extended at her side.

But it isn’t the dress code that’s upset them the most; it’s the way they were shamed by the teachers who decided they were breaking it.

In response, two of the girls penned a letter to the school’s principal saying their dress code reinforces rape culture.

“By saying that a female shoulder or a thigh is a distraction, the dress code says that a male’s inability to handle his attention or desires is more important than a girls’ freedom to dress comfortably and appropriately for the weather.”

Their goal is to get guidelines in place for how a teacher can enforce the dress code.

“We’re making a point to put in the student handbook the guidelines for how a teacher’s allowed to enforce the student dress code so that students know their rights and they know that they cannot be humiliated by a teacher in front of their entire class,” said Arina.

A spokesperson from the Monroe County Community School Corporation said the principal has listened to the girls’ suggestions on how to update the dress code and that the administration is taking them into consideration. But they say it takes time, and the recommendations will need to be approved by the school board before they can move forward with them.