Parents at a Chicago-area middle school are speaking out against a ban on leggings and tight yoga pants saying that the dress code policy is unfair to girls and contributes to “rape culture”.
Several female students complained to their parents that they weren’t allowed to wear the clothing items at Haven Middle School in Evanston, Ill. The school district’s dress code states that shorts, dresses and skirts “must extend closer to the knee than the hip, short shorts or skirts and leggings are unacceptable attire. Pants and shorts must be worn at the waist.”
Two parents, Juliet and Kevin Bond, sent a letter on March 11 to the school’s principal, Kathy Roberson, saying that the policy is inconsistently enforced and “contribute[s] to rape culture”:
Good morning Ms. Roberson,
We are writing with a concern regarding the revised dress policy. Our daughter came home last night upset that in addition to leggings and shorts, the girls are now also not allowed to wear yoga pants at school.
The reason, she explained, is that these items of clothing are “too distracting” for the boys.
This policy clearly shifts the blame for boy’s behavior or lack of academic concentration, directly onto the girls.
We are frankly shocked at this antiquated and warped message that is being sent to the kids. Under no circumstances should girls be told that their clothing is responsible for boy’s bad behaviors. This kind of message lands itself squarely on a continuum that blames girls and women for assault by men. It also sends the message to boys that their behaviours are excusable, or understandable given what the girls are wearing. And if the sight of a girl’s leg is too much for boys at Haven to handle, then your school has a much bigger problem to deal with.
We really hope that you will consider the impact of these policies and how they contribute to rape culture. Girls should be able to feel safe and unashamed about what they wear. And boys need to be corrected and taught when they harass girls.
Certainly comfortable clothing like yoga pants and leggings, which entirely cover up girl’s legs, are not the problem but the mindset of girls being responsible for sexual harassment or “distraction” is.
Roberson responded to the controversy in a letter sent to parents Tuesday. Roberson claims that leggings have not been banned at the school,
“Please be advised that Haven has not revised its dress code nor has the school banned leggings, yoga pants, or ‘skinny’ jeans. It has been communicated to students that ‘if leggings are worn, a shirt, shorts, or skirt worn over them must be fingertip length.'”
But the school’s dress code on the website still reads::
“Shorts, dresses, and skirts must extend closer to the knee than the hip, short shorts or skirts and leggings are unacceptable attire. Pants and shorts must be worn at the waist.”
According to Roberson, an advisory team will meet next week to review the dress code and hopefully add consistency to it.