TikTok user Stasia (@teachingadhdllamas) uploaded a video in frustration after getting a call from her daughter’s school while she was working. The school administrator informed Stasia over the phone that her daughter was actively protesting the school’s dress code and allegedly said “f*** the dress code” to the teacher who reprimanded her.
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“F*** the dress codes,” Stasia agreed in the TikTok’s caption. “Shoulders, midriffs and legs aren’t the problem. Talk to the boys/men who claim it’s distracting.”
Most comments on the video came from parents who praised Stasia’s unwavering support of her daughter.
“Now this is the kind of daughter I’m trying to raise!” one person wrote. “Way to go.”
One commenter who identified themselves as a teacher said that they have “extra shirts in case” a student gets dress-coded to avoid them being sent home. Stasia replied to the “shame shirt” tactic in a follow-up video.
“So many of us hate it,” she said about the “shame shirt.” “I have really tried to correct myself in what I say to girls and young women about their clothing — because it’s just not true.”
Stasia’s daughter then planned a protest at school the next day where she and fellow students wore white tank tops with messages written on the front of them.
“My children have stood up against racist teachers, my children have stood up with other children were deadnamed by ignorant teachers, my daughter refused to take straight sex education as a non-straight student,” Stasia added.
Stasia also pointed out the double standard seen with school dress codes after replying to a commenter who suggested boys join in on the protest.
“I’m so glad you say that because boys did wear crop tops yesterday and none of them got sent home,” she said. “Fast forward to today, my daughter is dress-coded in the first 10 minutes [of school] and sent to the office … A boy asked why he was not being dress-coded for his crop top today, [and] they told him to go back to class. So what he did was he went back to class and kept cutting his shirt until they dress-coded him.”
The conversation around whether school dress codes are discriminatory or sexist isn’t new. For decades, schools have argued that dress codes help prevent in-class distractions and reduce socioeconomic pressures on students, Education Week wrote in a 2018 piece. But conversations around whether these dress codes are actually excluding students or disproportionately used against young girls and students of color have been cropping up more and more.
“[Dress codes] sit at that intersection where they impact girls differently; they impact Black girls differently,” Nia Evans, a manager of campaign and digital strategies and education for the National Center for Education Statistics, told Education Week. “And when you add discipline to it, it’s really a disaster.”
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, dress codes are legal in public schools so long as they do not “treat boys and girls differently, force students to conform to sex stereotypes, or censor particular viewpoints.”
The growth of social media and the recent upturn in student activism alongside the #MeToo movement has encouraged more protests against school dress codes in recent years, The Atlantic argued in 2015.
And parents seem on board with fighting back.
“If [clothes are] distracting to the male teacher the male teacher should not be working in the school,” another said.
“So proud of the new generation standing up and fighting back,” a parent wrote.
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