From CA to NJ, Girls Protest ‘Sexist’ Dress Codes


Female students across the country are beginning to protest their schools’ dress codes, which many feel are sexist and aimed particularly at the female student population.

In California, an online petition authored by student Sanam Nawim suggests that Pleasanton’s Foothill High School discriminates against its female students through its dress code.  Nawim created the petition in response to what she says is “a sexist dress code that bans girls from wearing clothing that shows undergarments” or is “shorter than reasonable length.”

Nawim went on to say that she and other female students have been disciplined for their outfits, which they were told was distracting to male students.

The Coordinator of Communication and Community Engagement for Pleasanton Unified School District, Nicole Steward, told Alyssa Goard of NBC News that the dress code is standard for a high school, and complaints with regards to such a dress code are normal.

“I have to appreciate the feminism in the petition” Stewart added, “and we do like that the students are exercising their rights to free speech, we think that’s important. So it’s not a problem that students want to change the dress code, we just could have liked to know about it before now.”

Steward went on to say that she did not believe the dress code was sexist, and that she also understood female students wanting to wear less clothing as the warmer summer months approached.

She added that the dress code aimed to be gender neutral in an effort to prevent both sexes from having their undergarments show on school grounds.  In addition, school officials regularly review the dress code, and Steward said they would be open to a discussion pertaining to changing the regulations.

“Maybe if we reworded the policy to just say, ‘no undergarments can show on school premises,’ instead of pointing out specific articles of clothing, the policy wouldn’t seem so gender specific,” she said.

A similar situation is occurring in Montclair, New Jersey, where many female students feel they are being specifically targeted under their school’s dress code.  Students at the Montclair High School made their voices known late last week with a protest.

“Every high school has a dress code…but we are just upset that (Montclair’s) singles out the girls,” Kate Brown, a junior who helped organize the protest, said.  “And we’re not happy with the way it is enforced. I’ve been called out (for what I was wearing) by a male security guard in the middle of a crowded hallway. Girls are made to stand up in the middle of class to check the length of their shorts. It’s inappropriate.”

In Mason, Washington, Mason Middle School girls are taking issue with their dress code concerning school dances.  Students at the school started an online petition which has already been signed by people all over the US and in the UK and Canada, reports Debbie Cafazzo for The News Tribune.

Students at the school are required to wear uniforms on school days and are want more freedom with what they can wear to school dances.  According to their school’s dress code, they are unable to wear anything that shows their shoulders.

“It’s saying that all girls’ body parts are a distraction, which makes no sense,” said student Kenzie Sollars , 14. “It’s objectifying women. And it’s also saying boys can’t control themselves.”