LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Some Lexington middle school parents and students are upset and demanding change after they say the school dress code policy was unfairly enforced.
Parents say girls had to stand up in class while the teacher examined their outfits, and many were forced to change.
“It was kind of shaming them for clothing that people wear all the time,” said mom Liz Sheehan.
Liz Sheehan says her 6th grade daughter was singled out on Monday for wearing leggings and a long t-shirt that covered her bottom with a jean jacket over it. Her daughter was told the outfit violated the school’s dress code which states that shirts worn over leggings must reach your fingertips.
“In her class they had to stand up in the class and they had to show whether their shirt was fingertip length or not. So it drew attention to them in their class, she said she felt embarrassed that some of the other students were laughing at the process,” said Sheehan.
Sheehan says her daughter and dozens of other girls were removed from class and sent to "SAFE” which is an area for students with behavioral problems.
“This was more disruptive to the students’ day than what they were wearing,” said Sheehan.
“When you have excellent students be sent out of class, missing school, to have that kind of thing happened - the girls felt embarrassed,” said mom Laurie Preston.
Laurie Preston's daughters called her to let her know they needed a change of clothes after being sent to SAFE, otherwise students were given large shirts to change into.
We're told the rule about shirts and leggings has been a part of the school dress code policy all year but just started being enforced this week. Students were not giving warnings before being removed from class.
“From what I talked to my daughter about it, it didn't seem that there were other rules that were being enforced to this level,” said Sheehan.
Parents and students believe the policy is sexist and needs to change. An online petition now has more than 700 signatures.
"Young women can feel in this case that they're being objectified, judged, stigmatized for being a girl,” said Preston.
On Wednesday students wore shirts with writing on them about gender discrimination in protest, calling on the school to take action to stop the stigma.
Parents told LEX 18 that notes were recently sent home letting parents know that safety policies, including the dress code, were going to be more strictly enforced.
LEX 18 reached out to Fayette County Public Schools for comment but has not heard back.
To view of sign the Change.org petition on this issue, click here.
The district wide dress code policy does not address shirts worn with leggings, it is a school specific policy.
Here is the dress code policy listed on the Fayette County Schools website:
The following items are inappropriate for school:
- Tank tops, spaghetti strapped tops or dresses, tube tops, muscle shirts Remember: an inappropriate top covered by a jacket, sweater, etc is still inappropriate!
- Clothing of inappropriate size and fit (Too tight, too revealing or too baggy). This includes, but is not limited to, jeggings, leggings and yoga pants.
- Clothing that has holes, tears or rips within the minimum coverage area described above
- Pants, shorts or skirts that do not remain at the natural waist
- Remember: if you have to hold your pants up to walk, they are inappropriate.
- Undergarments that are visible while standing or sitting
- Clothing containing inappropriate language; advertisement of drugs, tobacco, or sex; suggestive lettering or pictures advocating/glorifying death and/or violence
- Transparent or mesh clothing without an appropriate shirt underneath
- Trench coats
- Jewelry or accessories that could be used as weapons are not to be worn at school. This includes, but is not limited to, jewelry such as spiked rings, bracelets and necklaces. Wallet chains or large chains worn around the neck or waist are not allowed.
- Sunglasses (may not be worn inside the buildings)
- Hats, caps or head coverings. (Hats or caps must be stored in a locker and retrieved at dismissal)
- Headbands or bandannas
- Combs or picks worn in the hair
- Body piercing that is disruptive or dangerous
- Pajamas and/or house shoes
- Clothing which displays signs, symbols or language which have the effect of disrupting or disturbing the school’s atmosphere is not permitted