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Dear Schools, Stop Sexualizing Your Students

[dropcap]My[/dropcap] middle school years were probably the most difficult years of my school career. I was trying to discover myself while dodging snobby girls in the hallway all while doing school work. On top of that, my school had a tendency to make me feel like a sexual object rather than a human being. We were told we couldn’t show our skin because it would distract the boys. Why didn’t we teach boys to respect women rather than having girls suffer the consequences for them? And “boys will be boys” isn’t an excuse, boys should be held responsible for their actions rather than having girls be punished.

I had a principal that would stand in the middle of the school and scan girls to see if they were out of dress code. I once witnessed her chase a girl down the hallway just to chastise the student for the length of her shorts. Every time I walked past her I felt like a caged animal being looked at by people at a zoo. I was dress coded all three years. The first time I was pulled out of class, I was admonished because what I was wearing “could distract boys.” Yet they were depriving me of learning time, so who was the real distraction?

In seventh grade on the last day of school, the girls decided to wear whatever they wanted since it was a steamy Georgia day. The memo spread to the principal who then went from class to class and pulled each girl from the room, lined them up against the wall and scanned them up and down. Again, the boys stayed in class while the girls were forced out.

In eighth grade, we had an assembly about drugs. At the end, the teachers told all the boys to proceed to class, but all the girls had to stay while we were lectured on dress codes. They told us that our bodies were a disruption to the school day, that we kept boys from learning. Somehow we were responsible for uncontrollable and hormonal boys. This assembly took us out of class, keeping us from learning while the boys continued on with their lectures. It was as though we were being told that their education was more important than our own.

People defend dress codes by arguing that there’s a “time and place” to dress a certain way. While that’s true it’s not right to treat young girls as if they’re a nuisance. We’re people too and deserve an education, just as much as boys. We are not distractions, we are human beings and it’s time we are treated that way.

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