The climate committee met on Oct. 4 with Skerry and members of the high school’s student council and peer outreach program. Although Skerry suggested school officials conduct a student survey to assess the impact of the dress code, no decisions regarding the policy were made at that meeting. The committee continues to examine the mandate, according to school officials.
“Dress codes define the basic standards for the community, not to control the students but to promote safe and productive learning environments,” said Mark V. Joyce, executive director of the New Hampshire School Administrators Association, an organization that represents more than 300 school system leaders, including superintendents, assistant superintendents, and finance directors.
“Every decade has had its challenges,” Joyce said, recalling the mini-skirts of the 1960s. “It’s up to each individual community to decide what is acceptable. In this case, student concerns are being considered by the administration. They are reviewing the matter. We just need to wait.”
As the climate committee conducts its review, Skerry and her family are weighing their options, including legal action. The new policy, they said, targets female students disproportionately and sends students the wrong message — that girls who bare their shoulders are somehow “bad.”
“It is a form of discrimination and gender bias,” said Skerry, who has a passion for public speaking and plans to be a lawyer.
Her family is behind her 100 percent, said her father, Paul.
“If the policy isn’t amended, we feel she should move forward with it and see this through,” he said.
“When the media attention dies down, which it will, Bitsy’s ultimately the one who will have to live with the decision she made to bring this issue out into the open,” said her mother, Natalie. “I am so proud of her for speaking up for something she believes in. That’s hard for many adults to do.”
“Bitsy can walk into Timberlane High School with her head held high, knowing that no matter what the outcome, she stood for something — and her voice was heard.”
Brenda J. Buote may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.