School dress codes have been up for discussion for years, typically with the focus on female hypersexualization, misogyny, favoritism, unequal treatment based on body types and simply the arcane gender stereotypes central to many of the rules.
And though seeing students suspended for their clothes is thoroughly frustrating to see, the event usually does not involve sexual harassment.
For 14-year-old Alice Wagner at Yulee Middle School in Florida, this was allegedly not the case.
Wagner appeared at school in a long patterned skirt, white tank top and earthy green long-cut sweater.
When she excused herself to use the restroom, she was surprised to hear her teacher comment on her outfit:
"My teacher had said something about my breasts. She told me I was letting them hang out for the whole world to see."
Angry when she returned to the classroom, Wagner told her teacher:
"You need to stop sexualizing 14-year-old girls."
Wagner then collected her things and "removed herself" from the situation by going to the principal's office.
She went there with the intention of calling her mother to come and pick her up, but the school employees would not allow her to make the call. After several minutes of arguing, Wagner was suspended for 10 school days.
Wagner's mother, Sarah Wagner, had mixed feelings.
"I don't think it's OK for her to talk to teachers that way, but I understand why she was angry."
"We're worried it's more of a systemic problem."
Wagner also questioned the school's system of applying the dress code.
"I believe schools are targeting women with mature bodies. Women in general, absolutely."
"So just because I have a little bit of breasts, I get targeted."
The school handbook includes specific clothing characteristics that are considered violations, but Wagner's outfit did not appear to violate any of them.
The handbook mentions shirts with thin or no straps, visible undergarments, midriffs showing and clothing that "overemphasizes the shape of the body."
You can watch more about the suspension here:
Twitter was concerned about the student's treatment.
They also questioned the school's dress code rules which mentioned a middle school student's figure as being up for review and debate by adults.
@wjxt4 'Crossed a line'? I guarentee the only line crossed is full grown adults sexualizing children and blaming ot… https://t.co/cLel9jo5Ih— Positively Nihilistic (@Positively Nihilistic)1620173487.0
@wjxt4 Good for her, students should be encouraged to stand up for themselves— Dr. Sam Hall (@Dr. Sam Hall)1620176553.0
@wjxt4 Teachers should not offer commentary on minors’ boobs. It’s gross, demeaning. They are telling on themselves.— Amy Klobuchar’s vibrating hair (@Amy Klobuchar’s vibrating hair)1620319612.0
Good for her! The inherent sexism and racism of dress code policies needs to be called out. "Student raises questio… https://t.co/ZIccIXKMOY— Jessica M. Pasko (@Jessica M. Pasko)1620235011.0
Rules are typically rules for a reason, but school dress codes continue to be a challenging question.
Especially when they center around the child's body instead of the clothing on it.