7 schools that shamed and punished girls and children of color with absurd dress code violations
On Wednesday, a Georgia high school student was sent home for violating the dress code at Beauford High School by wearing a fairly conservative-looking skirt that happened to show her knees.
Carey Burgess posted a picture of herself wearing a black-and-white striped sweater and khaki skirt, saying a school staffer embarrassed her when he told her she was violating dress code in front of her peers.
“Thank you for letting me know that while I may think that I am dressing up for my Teacher Cadet lesson, I am in fact dressing to go to a night club or the whore house,” Burgess wrote on her Facebook page. “Thank you for bringing me to tears in front of my friends and classmates because you do not have the decency to pull me aside and explain the problem. Then again, I did not have the decency to put on real clothes today.”
Burgess went on to say that some of her teachers make sexist jokes and remarks in class and said she was made to feel she was being “kept in place” as a woman.
“Maybe our society isn’t yet advanced enough to handle 3 inches of my thigh,” she wrote. “This is a patriarchal society and I am a woman. I have to be kept in my place, or I may do something that is so rarely seen in Beaufort High School- learn.”
Burgess isn’t the first female student or student of color to be disciplined for her outfit — or for wearing styles associated with culture, depending on the case. Here are seven examples of dress codes that seem designed to target students based on their race or gender.
1. In September, a Native American student of Seneca and Paiute descent was sent home from school in Utah because he was wearing the traditional Mohawk hairstyle, which is often worn by men from Seneca Nation. Officials from Arrowhead Elementary would only allow him to return to school after a tribal leader sent a letter confirming the cultural nature of the cut.
2. Also in September, boys joined girls in protest over a school dress code at Cape Cod Regional Tech in Massachusetts over a ban on yoga pants, comfortable, shape-hugging pants that have become commonplace outside yoga studios. Students criticized the ban as targeting women and forcing them to “cover up.”
3. In 2013, a Christian school in Florida threatened to expel a 12-year-old African-American girl for wearing her hair naturally. Vanessa VanDyke had told school officials she was being bullied, but instead of helping her, the school gave her an ultimatum: Cut and straighten her hair or be expelled. The school, Faith Christian Academy in Orlando, eventually backed off the threat.
4. In August, an Oklahoma school administrator came under fire for shaming female students by calling girls in revealing clothing “skanks.” A student said Noble High School superintendent Ronda Bass sat girls down on the first day of school and said, “Have y’all ever seen any ‘skanks’ around this school? I don’t want to see anyone’s ass hanging out of their shorts.”
5. Last year, female students were kicked out of their high school prom after showing up in pants. Shafer Rupard and her friends, students at Cherryville High School were apparently subjected to a non-existent dress code rule when Rupard was told by a teacher there was an issue with her skinny jeans.
6. Last May, Shelton High School in Connecticut caused a firestorm when it banned backless dresses and dresses with slit skirts at its prom. The style of evening wear is common, forcing students and parents to scramble at the last minute to find replacements for the girls’ dresses.
7. Last November, a Milwaukee teacher was given a citation by police after she cut off a braid worn by an African-American child, WISN reported. Lamya Cammon was playing with her braids in class when her teacher told her to stop. The teacher then cut one of her braids off.