A public high school in New York is currently making headlines after expelling 17 students after cracking down on their dress code. Regardless of the warm weather, students are expected to adhere to the school’s strict clothing regulations which forbid the exposure of the chest, thighs, and shoulders.
The suspended students are outraged, claiming female students aren’t held to the same standards and that the school’s rules are sexist.
One student who was suspended for wearing a tank top that school officials deemed “too revealing” didn’t understand why he was being singled out saying, “I’m wearing a tank top because it’s hot out. The school has no air conditioning and I can’t focus in class if I’m melting in my desk.”
While the school has neglected to comment on the current situation, the school’s official dress code as posted on their website states that male students are forbidden to wear anything that might be “distracting” to their female classmates. This includes shorts more than two inches above the knee, tops that reveal the shoulders or chest, pants or shorts that fall below the waistline, and anything considered formfitting.
A second male student we spoke to broke down in tears as he told us he was expelled for his t-shirt being too tight. According to the student, a female teacher pointed out that his nipples could be seen through the fabric and that it made her uncomfortable. She recommended he wear an undershirt on a daily basis to resolve the issue. “They humiliated me,” the 16-year-old explained to us. “If these girls are so distracted by a simple t-shirt, then maybe they’re the problem.”
While the students we spoke to all admitted that they were aware of the school’s dress code, none of them felt the school had the right to suspend them all without an initial warning. Of the 17 expelled students, only 2 had received written warnings in regard to their attire in the past.
A student expelled for his boxers rising above his shorts called the whole ordeal excessive, saying:
This is a public school, we shouldn’t have these kinds of restrictions on what we wear. I mean, I bent over to pick up my backpack on my way out of class and I get expelled. Apparently my shirt lifted when I bent down and my teacher could see my boxers. Well, this is life and in life your clothes don’t stay put when you bend over. Now I’m out of school for the rest of the week, not getting the education I have a right to. Finals are in two weeks! This is not the time of the year to be suspending students over something so small. If these ladies are failing classes because my boxers or my shoulders turn them on, then maybe they need to be pulled out of school. Not us.
The debate over whether or not male students are singled out for their provocative clothing choices while female students seem to get away with wearing whatever they want has been a topic of controversy across the country for years now. Since young girls are taught to view boys as sexual objects by the media and society, by the time they reach teenage years, girls have a hard time focusing in class as they’re distracted by the boys. Schools seem to think the distraction is intensified when a boy is wearing something revealing or tight, so instead of teaching these girls that boys shouldn’t be objectified, they punish the boys.
The controversy has resulted in dozens of lawsuits as punishing these young boys who don’t abide by dress codes will often lead to them being humiliated by school officials who force students to change into a school approved outfit. The school’s actions can also cause serious damage to the boys’ self-esteem as they’re too young to understand why they’re being viewed in a sexual manner by not only their female classmates but the adult teachers and school officials who reprimand them as well.