Sixth grader Molly Neuner has a bone to pick with King Middle School in Portland, ME.
During a community meeting held at the school, the preteen, along with several other members of her grade, gathered for a discussion of their school dress code. Like the many news anchors, waitresses, and other pioneers who’ve come before her, Neuner had a startling observation: The boys had far less restrictions on what they could wear. When Neuner questioned her teachers about the matter, that’s when things got hairy.
“We were sitting in our community meeting, and the teachers told us about the dress code...and then the girls asked why it mainly applied to girls," Neuner said in an interview with Mic. "Then they said it doesn't, it also applies to boys, but also it's because it's a distraction for boys. It made me feel uncomfortable, because I don't want boys looking at me in weird ways and it was awkward. It made me feel sad, because I knew friends in that room who were lesbian or gay who were left out, and I saw another girl look down and looked upset because they said that."
That’s right, folks. Girls — most of whom are entering that fragile stage of puberty, which is awkward enough — are being taught that their natural bodies are a “distraction” to boys. In school. This is not okay.
Like the mini trailblazer she is, Neuner (and a friend) showed up to class the next day wearing strappy tops; their tanks violated the school's dress code. After their teacher measured their shirt straps in front of the entire class, they were warned that if they wore them again, they’d receive detention. Molly’s mother, Christina Neuner, was also called.
“I thought, Oh hell no, this is not happening," Christina said. "The next day, we started looking online at 'girls and dress codes' and saw it was a problem at other schools, and we found the #IAmNotADistraction campaign."
Last week Molly broke the dress code on purpose again, but this time she wrote the hashtag #IAmNotADistraction on her arm for all to see. The hashtag has recently become a rallying cry for those intent on calling out the double standards of dress code policies.
"My mom showed me the hashtag pictures on Instagram from other groups, and I was really inspired by that," Molly said. "I knew that I wanted that written on my arm, and wanted to get a lot of girls to do it. So I decided to wear that and totally break the dress code, and I didn't care what the teachers or anyone said because it's my body, my choice."
Soon after, Molly’s peers followed suit, breaking the dress code and scrawling their declaration on their forearms. Then something miraculous happened: The school's teachers came forward to support the movement.
"My social studies teacher told us that it was super cool we were doing it, and that we were right, that we aren't distractions," Molly said. "She was super supportive of it, and our teachers were all super supportive. Then the principal called me into her office and we talked, and she said they would review the dress code at the end of the year."
Can this kid run for president? Mom also had some words to say about the whole matter on Facebook.