Surry Central High School: End Discriminatory Graduation Dress Code

This petition made change with 44 supporters!

We live in a society that teaches and promises gender equality, but when it comes down to it our girls, and all women in general are shown time and again that women aren't truly considered equal to men.  Sadly because of outdated and Biased policies, such as forcing young women graduating from high school to wear dresses and skirts, petitions, such as this one are still needed to fight for the equality this country has long ago promised. 

Surry Central High School's obsolete and prejudiced graduation policy that requires all graduating female seniors to wear a dress or skirt is offensive to the equality of not only the female graduating class, but to all females. Forcing girls to wear dresses is not only sexually discriminating; it is a violation of constitutionally protected rights to freedom of speech and expression. It is a barbaric policy that "reinforces stereotypical gender norms that are harmful to all students."  

Furthermore, this graduation policy is also a direct violation to Surry County Schools own "Equal Educational Opportunities" Policy code 4001, Which states,

"The Surry County Board of Education affirms the principle that every student -- regardless of race, creed, color, national origin, sex, cultural or economic background, or disability -- should be given an equal educational opportunity for educational development.  Furthermore, no student, on the basis of sex, marital status, pregnancy, or parenthood, will be excluded from participating in, denied the benefits of, or subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity conducted by the school system.  The school system will treat its students without discrimination in regard to course offerings, athletics, counseling, employment assistance and extracurricular activities." 

A letter written by Karen M. Doering on behalf of the ACLU of Florida states it best:

"The school's requirement that all female students wear skirts or dresses with hemlines above their graduation gown, and male students must wear dark dress trousers and a tie, constitutes impermissible gender bias and discrimination and violates female students' constitutional rights to privacy, liberty, and first amendment protections. The school may impose a requirement of "formal attire" for graduation. However, to mandate dress based upon outdated notions that girls wear dresses and boys wear pants is impermissible. Differential treatment based upon sex is constitutional only if supported by compelling governmental interest, and there is certainly no compelling governmental interest in forcing girls to wear dresses. We therefore request that the policy be amended to permit female students to wear dress slacks or a pantsuit."

"...These young women are not asking to wear blue jeans or other casual pants to graduation. They simply want to wear formal, professional clothing that does not require them to expose their legs to all onlookers. Although females were often required to wear skirts and dresses at formal events several decades ago, pantsuits or dress slacks have been an acceptable alternative in courtrooms and other professional settings for years.

For many female students, including our clients, being forced to wear a skirt or dress is extremely upsetting in that it forces them to conform to an antiquated gender stereotypical mode of dress from an era when women were denied many of the same rights and opportunities as their male counterparts. Moreover, since the school's dress code further requires that the skirt or dress not show beneath their gown, this requires female students, including our clients, to wear a skirt or dress with a short hemline. This forces the female students to expose their legs. Requiring female students to wear clothing that exposes portions of their bodies violates their sense of privacy and unnecessarily causes many young women to feel uncomfortable and vulnerable.
This requirement is not only emotionally traumatizing to these young women, it is also illegal. We are writing now in an effort to resolve this situation amicably, without litigation. We respectfully demand that you rescind or amend the school's policy requiring girls to wear dresses or skirts at graduation and allow girls the option of wearing a formal pantsuit or dress slacks."

We are asking that Surry Central High School, and all Surry County and North Carolina Schools amend their graduation dress code policy to reflect the equality of our female graduating class.  We tell our young ladies that they are equal to men, that they can grow up to be anything they chose to be...but that message is being contradicted by policies such as this.  End this discrimintory, outdated, and bias policy and show our graduating seniors, all students, and our state that discrimination and bias like this has no place in our society.

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