PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A Maine sixth grader has prompted her middle school to review its dress code after her Instagram posts triggered widespread attention.
Molly Neuner tells WSCH-TV she believes the dress code at Portland’s King Middle School is “unfair and sexist.” The code prohibits students from wearing “short or tight-fitting skirts or shorts” and also outlaws “thin-strapped tops.”
The 11-year-old says sixth graders were told such outfits could be a “distraction” to boys.
Hearing about the code, the girl’s mother showed her the #iamnotadistraction hashtag, and Molly showed up at school in a thin-strapped tank top with the hashtag scrawled on her arm.
The protest caught on with other students and brought national attention.
District Superintendent Xavier Botana says the district is considering “smart adjustments” to the dress code.
This girl… I have no words for her bravery… Today has been quite a day. We woke up to our strong, brave, beautiful girl on the front page of the paper. When we agreed to be part of the article, I thought that the article would be tucked in the back page of the opinion section. But instead, there she was, front and center standing up for herself for all to see. Some may read this and think it’s “just a strap” or that “rules were meant to be followed” or that “girls should cover up” or (my personal favorite) “it’s a distraction to boys.” But my question to you is, why? Why do you feel like this? Why do you jump to those conclusions? It’s because of what we are taught. We have been taught to mask our own feelings and stay small and not make waves. We are taught that our bodies are inherently sexual objects that WE need to cover so WE stay safe. Well, no longer my friends. We need to stand up for ourselves and our for children. We need to teach our beautiful, young, innocent daughters that their bodies are beautiful and powerful and their own to display or portray in any way they wish WITHOUT consequence. And we need to teach our young, kind, brave sons that they are smart and strong and capable of controlling their own bodies. And don’t even get me started on the issues of the LGBTQ kids who are completely overlooked on this issue. The other piece that this amazing story left out is that last week, the students in my daughter's class had a meeting to review dress code. In that meeting there were many questions about the girls rules and when one of the students asked why the girls had so many rule they were told that it was because they were a distraction to the boys… I’ll let that sink in for a minute… And maybe you need another minute… It is 2017 after all. And while the school has assured us that this is not the opinion of the school, the dress code still stands in place until the end of the year. This is not just about a tank top, it’s about years of underlying messages of shame to our girls that MUST stop. #mybodymybusiness #iamnotadistraction #iammorethanadistraction