Stop Sexualizing Newtown Girls
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It has come to our attention that a student was told to cover her shoulders at Newtown High School. Once that story was shared, other parents came forward with their own stories about how their child was made to feel embarrassed because of their clothing choices. We believe that it goes against several school policies and the staff needs to be better educated in regards to sexual harassment.
According to the DRESS AND GROOMING - Policy 5132
Students shall dress in professional clothing appropriate to the school setting. Restrictions on freedom of student dress may be applied whenever the mode of dress in question:
1. is unsafe either for the student or those around the student;
2. is counterintuitive to school operations and the education process in general; 3. is contrary to law.
This girl in question and many others are not in violation of this policy when they are sexualized by the school staff and told to cover up. The only problem that we have with this policy, other than it not being followed by the staff, is that "professional" should be removed. These kids are there to attend classes, go to gym, play outside, and sometimes learn in a building with no air conditioning. There is also a large population of students that have after school activities that they rush to, not giving them time to change. It is even more concerning that many times the teachers are not dressed to the same standards as they hold the students.
The Student Dress and Grooming Policy should make sure that students are safe from harm, not promoting through imagery or language sex, drugs, gang affiliation, violence, or profanity, and in accordance with CT Laws. Indecent exposure, as written in CT Sec. 53a-186, in regards to dress specifically states that lewd exposure of the body with intent to arouse or to satisfy the sexual desire of the person is against the law. These girls are not trying to satisfy anyones sexual desires by wearing what they feel comfortable in and we think it is important to point out that over the summer we did not see a bunch of inappropriately dressed girls running around the town.
The job of the staff at all Newtown Public Schools should be to foster the following Goals, Expectations, and Beliefs.
The NHS Goals are:
- Improve student learning
- Create and improve connections between students and adults
- Diminish and eliminate mean and cruel behaviors
The Societal Expectations are:
- Value personal integrity, respect for others, and appreciation for diversity
- Share responsibility with others to address and resolve issues
There are also a few Beliefs that stick out to me as relevant to this discussion: -- Each individual is unique and has value
- Honesty, integrity, respect, and open communication build trust
- Family is a critical influence in each individual’s development
- Understanding all forms of diversity is essential in a global society
- All individuals are responsible for their behavior and choices
- Continuous improvement requires the courage to change
When staff asks a girl to cover her body it goes directly against these fine values.
- It does nothing to improve the students learning,
- Diminishes the connection between students and adults,
- Is mean and cruel,
- It goes completely against personal integrity, respect for others, and appreciation for diversity,
- Does not teach that each individual is unique and has value
- It does nothing to build trust
- Eliminates the families decision on what is appropriate for their family values,
- Does not encourage diversity which is essential in a global society.
We, as parents, community members, and students ask that Newtown Public Schools stops sexualizing our young women and girls. We believe that our girls are being harassed by the very people that are there to protect and educate them. As a reminder
HARASSMENT OF STUDENTS - Policy 8-603
The Newtown Board of Education affirms the right of all students to be protected from intimidation, discrimination, physical harm, and/or harassment. Harassment or discriminatory behavior that denies civil rights or access to equal educational opportunities includes indecent, vulgar, or abusive epithets or gestures that are targeted at an individual or group. Such harassment or discriminatory behavior is not acceptable under this policy. It shall be an aggravating circumstance that the harasser selects the victim because of the victim's race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or disability. If an indecent, vulgar, or abusive epithet is directed to the victim's race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or disability, this shall be evidence that the victim was chosen because of that characteristic.
Please take the time to remind the faculty and staff that harassment of our girls will not be tolerated by their peers OR by the adults around them.
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