A fifth grader in Atlanta is taking on the city Board of Education’s dress code in an effort to be able to wear leggings at school. Falyn Handley, 10, is particularly concerned that the dress code policy says that students can’t wear clothes that are “distracting.”
“This is a label applied to girls’ clothing. I do not believe that clothing is a distraction. It is just the reaction that matters,” she said in front of the Atlanta Board of Education earlier this month, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I should not be punished for other people’s behavior. I am not a distraction.”
Handley, who is a student at Springdale Park Elementary School, created a Change.org petition to try to change her school’s dress code, which is a decade old. “Leggings are comfortable, affordable, and popular. The current [Atlanta Public Schools] dress code does not allow leggings because they are ‘a distraction,’” she wrote. “Help me change this policy!” Handley says she’s done research (and found that there are no studies that prove that leggings are an academic distraction). She also created a presentation, presented it to the public school system’s dress code change policy committee, and attended the first reading of proposed changes. The public school board is “making great progress updating the 10-year-old policy, but I need your support,” she wrote.
— Jaclyn Schultz FOX 5 (@jaclynFOX5ATL) November 2, 2017
Handley wants the words “distraction” and “distracting” removed from the dress code policy and would also like a clause added that students shouldn’t be shamed for their wardrobe choices. “Girls should not be pulled out of class or embarrassed for wearing leggings, which is happening now,” she said. “Boys and girls should be able to manage their ‘distractions’ and reactions. I am not a distraction and me wearing leggings is not a distraction. The world is full of distractions, but how you react to situations is YOUR problem.”
Latisha Gray, director of communications for Atlanta Public Schools, tells Yahoo Lifestyle that the school system is aware of Handley’s petition. She also pointed to the school district’s statement on the dress code policy changes that says that the district is “working with our students, along with other stakeholders, to craft revisions that work for students, parents, teachers, and administrators.” Board members have “made it a priority” to update the policy and are open to hearing from students about the issue.
The board may vote on potential revisions in December, Gray says.
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