In late April, the public middle school in Woodstock, Vermont called a girls-only assembly to discuss the dress code and its impact on the learning environment.
Students reported that a female school employee told the all-girl assembly that they were not complying with the dress code, and that their choice of clothes distracted boys from their learning.
The female students reported being told, among other things, that when they wear short skirts, boys hide under the stairs and look up the skirts.
Local reports say that during this girls-only meeting, the male students were allowed to play cards and other games.
The language of dress code policies is an issue in schools across the country, often making boys’ reactions, behaviors, and distractions the responsibility of their female peers. It’s an attitude the perpetuates misogyny, laying the groundwork for the “she was asking for it” perception of sexual harassment and assault.
The archaic dress codes put our girls in harm’s way while insulting the sons we’re raising by fortifying the idea that they cannot control their reactions and behaviors, nor are they responsible for doing so.
It’s way past time for a national re-write on school dress code policies.
According to a parent, a teacher “explained to the school’s girls that when they don’t comply with the school’s dress code, they are distracting the boys.” That’s a damaging message, the parent said, because it blames girls rather than holding boys accountable for their behavior.