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Student Fights Gender Bias in School Dress Code


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Crop tops showing mid-drifts, tank tops showing bra straps, or no bra at all, and short shorts that show buns hanging out the bottom is against the dress code in nearly every high school in America. Nevertheless, Cat Just, a Sophomore, has taken it upon herself to fight and change what she considers to be gender bias in the dress code at Bangor High School in Bangor, Maine. Cat says that the male students are not held to the same standards as the female students. She has started the Crop Top Movement, and the first day of her cause was Thursday, Sept. 3. Male and female students participated in the movement by wearing spaghetti straps, crop tops, short shorts, and even bra strap bracelets were all part of the cause against gender bias in the school dress code.

According to Cat, the vice principal, Bryan Doyle, held an assembly the day before and he specifically said, “Ladies, we don’t want to see your bra straps and if you can’t follow the dress code you will be asked to cover up or go home.” He continued on speaking about the appropriate length of shorts, not showing midriffs, and cleavage. Cat spoke up and pointed out to Mr. Doyle that he was practicing gender bias by singling out the female students as she was asked to leave the auditorium.

The males who participated in the Crop Top Movement were laughed at, even by teachers, proving Cat’s point that the sexes are treated differently. Some of the female students, however, were treated quite differently by school staff members. Some of them were disciplined, merely spoken to about their attire, and some were kept from going to their classes. One female student who took part in the Crop Top Movement was taken to the vice principal’s office and asked to stand outside his office and wait for her grandmother to bring her appropriate clothing. The young woman stood outside the vice principal’s door for two-and-a-half hours. Interestingly, none of the boys in crop tops, tank tops or bra strap bracelets were harassed. None of them had to miss class, be disciplined or told to change their clothes.

There is an extensive conversation on Facebook concerning gender bias starting with the opinion piece Cat wrote for the Bangor Daily News. Many of the comments, although they applaud her efforts, encourage her to consider the real world. Many workplaces have a specific dress code.

One solution to Cat’s gender bias issue, mentioned on Facebook, would be for Bangor High School to start having the students where uniforms. Everyone would look the same whether male or female. According to the many other social-media responses, mandating students to wear uniforms would take away their last chance to show individual creativity before moving on to the real world of uniforms and other dress code requirements.

One woman stated that these young ladies need to have respect for themselves and dress appropriately. Others bring up that the way they are dressing is a distraction to the young male students.

A previous student of Bangor High School posted on Facebook a reminder that Cat’s Crop Top Movement is really a fight in support of a culture where male and female are treated the same. It was mentioned that a red flag for many was that male students who wore crop tops were not punished or ridiculed, they were laughed at while the girls who wore crop tops were punished. If the female students are going to be punished for not following the school dress code, then so should the male students.

Cat is specifically highlighting the liberal bias that occurs when schools single out the way female students dress while simultaneously ignoring these standards when it comes to their male counterparts. Cat is fighting to level the playing field. Her story is on the internet, the news, radio, and there is a petition in place.

Cat’s fight against gender bias in Bangor High School will perhaps not stop until she and the other students are heard. The Crop Top Movement continued Friday, Sept. 4. Women want to be treated equally in the workplace, so for many, it makes sense that it should start in high school. If elementary students treat their friends equally and if the school treats the students equally with their dress code, these students may not resort to fighting because gender bias would have arguably lost its meaning.

By Jeanette Smith


The Bangor Daily News: Bangor High Student: The Dress Code Rules at My School Are Sexist
The Bangor Daily News: Comments on the Opinion of the Bangor High Student
Facebook: Responses on Cat’s Post

Top Image Courtesy of Roger Smith’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Featured Image Courtesy of Program Executive Office Soldier’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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