Advertising

A sixth grader in Portland, ME has had enough of sexist dress codes.

According to the Portland Press Herald, King Middle School sixth grader Molly Neuner was upset after a teacher allegedly made her and another female student measure their tank top straps and shorts, respectively, in front of the whole class.

"She made us feel really uncomfortable," Molly said. "It was really uncomfortable and weird."

When the teacher found that Molly's tank top straps weren't wide enough to lay two fingers across, she told her to cover up and warned her that her next violation would result in a detention after school. (You can see a photo of the tank top in question if you click through to the Portland Press Herald.)

Advertising

Molly thought that was pretty unfair, so a couple days later Molly decided to send a message. Last Wednesday, she deliberately violated the dress code and wore a tank top to school. On her arm, she wrote "#IAmNotADistraction," a hashtag that's been used to call out sexist school dress codes before. Molly's mom Christina Neuner posted a photo of her daughter's outfit on Instagram, and explained why the topic was so important to them.

This girl... I have no words for her bravery... Today has been quite a day. We woke up to our strong, brave, beautiful girl on the front page of the paper. When we agreed to be part of the article, I thought that the article would be tucked in the back page of the opinion section. But instead, there she was, front and center standing up for herself for all to see. Some may read this and think it’s “just a strap” or that “rules were meant to be followed” or that “girls should cover up” or (my personal favorite) “it’s a distraction to boys.” But my question to you is, why? Why do you feel like this? Why do you jump to those conclusions? It’s because of what we are taught. We have been taught to mask our own feelings and stay small and not make waves. We are taught that our bodies are inherently sexual objects that WE need to cover so WE stay safe. Well, no longer my friends. We need to stand up for ourselves and our for children. We need to teach our beautiful, young, innocent daughters that their bodies are beautiful and powerful and their own to display or portray in any way they wish WITHOUT consequence. And we need to teach our young, kind, brave sons that they are smart and strong and capable of controlling their own bodies. And don’t even get me started on the issues of the LGBTQ kids who are completely overlooked on this issue. The other piece that this amazing story left out is that last week, the students in my daughter's class had a meeting to review dress code. In that meeting there were many questions about the girls rules and when one of the students asked why the girls had so many rule they were told that it was because they were a distraction to the boys… I’ll let that sink in for a minute… And maybe you need another minute… It is 2017 after all. And while the school has assured us that this is not the opinion of the school, the dress code still stands in place until the end of the year. This is not just about a tank top, it’s about years of underlying messages of shame to our girls that MUST stop. #mybodymybusiness #iamnotadistraction #iammorethanadistraction

A post shared by Christina Neuner 💌 (@christinaneuner) on

Advertising

“We need to stand up for ourselves and for our children. We need to teach our beautiful, young, innocent daughters that their bodies are beautiful and powerful and their own to display or portray in any way they wish WITHOUT consequence,” Christina wrote in the Instagram caption. “And we need to teach our young, kind, brave sons that they are smart and strong and capable of controlling their own bodies.”

Other girls at school were inspired by Molly's protest, and about 20 of them followed her lead and wore clothes that deliberately violated the dress code.

Advertising

“It was so cool to see everyone doing it,” Molly said.

It wasn't just other students that were on board, though. Molly says even teachers were coming forward to give her their support.

"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 in an interview with Mic. "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."

Advertising

That day, the school's principal Caitlin LeClair announced that the school will review the dress code at the end of the year with the students' concerns in mind.

“We plan to take this feedback and use it as an opportunity to have some students’ and parents’ input,” LeClair told the Press Herald.

Molly isn't going to let them off with just a promise, though. “I’m happy they’re going to look at it, but I want to make sure they really do it,” she told the Press Herald.

Advertising

What an awesome kid.

Sources: Portland Press Herald | Mic