These Middle Schoolers Have A Clear Message For Their School's Sexist Dress Code

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At Urbana Middle School in Maryland, students who violate the dress code have to wear large yellow shirts, according to the Frederick News-Post. Now, one group of students is turning that rule on its head by using that "punishment" to protest the dress code in question.

A group of female middle schoolers banded together to stand up against their school's dress restrictions, which they believe unevenly target girls' outfits over those of their male counterparts, People reports. If a student is reprimanded for wearing spaghetti straps or too-short shorts, principal Peter Daddone reportedly requires they come in the next day wearing an oversized yellow T-shirt. So, the protesters decided to wear that very garment — except, with the phrase "I AM MORE THAN A DISTRACTION" written across the front in big, bold letters.

"They’re telling us it’s our responsibility to not be distracting, when it should be their responsibility," said eighth-grader Abby Carioti. The students object to the rules that specifically pertain to girls' clothing (which don't apply to male students), as well as the policy of making them wear the shirts rather than addressing them privately. When the protestors walked into the cafeteria in their graphic shirts after violating the dress code, their peers apparently cheered.

District spokesman Michael Doerrer told the Frederick News-Post that the yellow shirts weren't meant as a punishment, but rather as a way to cover up dress-code-violating outfits. Tom Saunders, the district's instructional director of middle schools, also defended the policy: "I think the basis of the policy is keeping a safe, nurturing learning environment," he said.

Urbana Middle School isn't alone in standing up against seemingly sexist dress restrictions: Students at Linganore High School, which is located in the same district in Maryland, are also protesting their dress code, according to People, which they argue promotes rape culture by focusing on covering up the female body as a way to ward off the male gaze.

"They’re teaching guys that it is OK for their wrongdoings against females because of our actions," Rachel Zuniga, a senior at Linganore who has been passing around a petition to change this dress code, said. "It’s not our fault if boys misbehave."
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