American Taliban: Modesty police enforce a draconian dress code against female students attending a public high school in Kentucky
A draconian dress code at Woodford County High School in Kentucky is shaming female students by punishing them if they expose bare shoulders, bare knees or bare collar bones.
The school dress code stipulates that students must wear a rounded crewneck shirt or a button-down shirt which may have only the top button open. Shirts must not extend below the collarbone. Shorts and skirts must be knee-length or longer.
Exposing shoulders, knees or collar bones is forbidden. The dress code is supposedly written to apply to both male and female students, however, according to students, only girls are being punished and shamed for violating the code.
Female students are told that male students cannot handle the temptation and distraction of catching a glimpse of a bare shoulder, a bare knee, or a bare collar bone. Such reasoning echoes the faulty moral logic of Islamic extremists, Christian extremists, and other sexist, misogynistic, and patriarchal systems of oppression.
About the draconian dress code, Maggie, 15, told the Herald-Leader:
I just don’t think that our school needs a dress code. I think that it should be eradicated. We are at school to learn. Telling young girls to cover up because it creates a distracting learning environment for boys is the entirely wrong message to send. Our dress code creates an even bigger distraction for girls, especially when they are being called out in front of their peers and removed from important classes.
Maggie is right. Punishing and shaming female students for violating such a ridiculous dress code is wrong and counterproductive. More than that, to suggest that male students cannot see a bare knee, a bare shoulder, or a bare collarbone without being sexually excited to the point of distraction insults and demeans not only the female students but the male students as well.
This isn’t the first time that the absurd dress code, which has been in effect for 11 years, has been the source of anger and confusion. At the end of the last school year, a student made film titled Shame: A Documentary on School Dress Code was released on YouTube. The video features female Woodford High students thoughtfully explaining the unfair and oppressive gender bias the dress code brings to the school.
The Herald-Leader reports that Wednesday was the first day of classes for students, and immediately the dress code was causing havoc as female students were being shamed and punished for their wardrobe choices:
One Facebook post said there was “a group of female students standing in the office” because they were not complying with the dress code.
Another post said, “This is ridiculous! Parents are being called away from important jobs and students are missing important class time because they are showing their collarbones!”
Concerned students at Woodford County High School have started a petition at change.org: “Help our students change Woodford County High School dress code.”
For more on this story, watch this excellent video made by Woodford County High School student Maggie Sunseri titled Shame: A Documentary on School Dress Code –