Over 3,000 people have joined a petition asking the Fort Mill School District to rewrite the dress code, calling the policies “unrealistic, arbitrarily enforced and unfair.”
The petition, on Change.org, says the code is specifically unfair to females. It says dress codes vary by school and even by grade level.
“That causes confusion, stress and anxiety for students and parents,” the petition says. “Calling girls out for dress code violations has a negative impact on class time, self esteem and relationship building with teachers and administrators.”
The petition asks that the school district revise the current dress code and include parents and students in the conversation with the use of parent advisory boards or student task forces. The effort was reportedly started from a few middle school parents after a girl was “dress coded” last week and several thought it was unfair.
FMSD Communications Officer Joe Burke said Tuesday that the district has heard about the dress-code concerns shared on social media. “The staff is currently reviewing our policy and its implementation,” he said by email.
The Fort Mill Sun reached out to school trustees by email, and we will update this story if they respond.
The district dress code was last revised a few years ago.
The petition organizer, who is not named, complains that shorts have to be no more than 4 inches above the crease of the knee and tank tops are not allowed. The writer says sleeveless style dresses and blouses are common in corporate America and would provide girls with more comfortable dress options. The lengthy petition says that school board members are often seen in sleeveless dresses during school visits and board meetings.
Local girls “report that they feel forced to wear long pants and jeans even in 90-100 degree weather” to avoid being embarrassed or penalized for a clothing choice, the petition says. The writer says this presents health risks, such as nausea, overheating and even fainting. It also “promotes victim blaming and negative or distorted body imaging and makes our daughters feel less empowered during an age when they are already emotionally vulnerable,” according to the petition.
Local parents have taken to social media with their own opinions. A few examples:
• Joy: “I have a photo that I took at an 8th grade graduation showing the assistant principal in a VERY short mini skirt. She also is the one who disciplines the girls at that school for their dress code. Yet, she dresses provocatively on a regular basis. It’s a complete joke.”
• Kelly: “Let’s get the focus on our girls learning, not their shorts/skirt length.”
• Jennifer: “Why girls can’t wear sleeveless sundresses and appropriate tanks tops, shorts and skirts that are in fashion is beyond me. The district can set appropriate limitations while living in reality.”