"Dress-wearing" students at Pewaukee High School in Wisconsin are not permitted to buy tickets to school dances until school officials approve their dresses, The Journal Sentinel reports.
The policy, which has been in place since 2015, requires students and their guests to submit photos of the dresses they plan to wear. After receiving an email reminder about the policy in advance of a homecoming dance, students and their parents are speaking out about the sexist nature of the rule.
"The girls are essentially being held responsible for the wayward thoughts (administrators) think boys have," Rebecca Sheperd, whose daughter is a freshman at Pewaukee, told the The Journal Sentinel. "They're being told, 'You are the problem.' These are the roots of rape culture, frankly."
Pewaukee Superintendent Mike Cady told the outlet that the dress code isn't sexist because it also prohibits male students from wearing low pants that expose their underwear. His comments failed to address the fact that only "dress-wearing" attendees are required to have their outfits approved in advance.
But students say the dress code disproportionately polices what girls wear. Senior Nicole Stark told The Journal Sentinel that she had recently been "yelled at" for wearing an off-the-shoulder blouson-style top. "Guys wear tank tops all the time and don't get dress-coded," Stark said.
Both male and female students told the outlet girls are frequently told to change their clothes, but boys are not. Male students also pointed out that they're not distracted by girls' attire, which is an oft-cited reason for strict dress codes. "We spend all summer with our friends who are girls," said junior Ben Miller.
Boys and girls at schools across the country have recently spoken out about the sexist double standards of dress codes. After girls at San Benito High School in California were sent home for wearing off-the-shoulder shirts, boys protested by showing up to school in off-the-shoulder shirts of their own.