SCSD: Sexist dress codes have got to go!

SCSD: Sexist dress codes have got to go!

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Carmen Viviano-Crafts started this petition to Syracuse City School District and

My 9 year old daughter is a third grader at Montessori at Lemoyne here in the city of Syracuse. Today (4/28/21) when I picked her up she told me she was upset because she had to be hot all day. Her classroom is very warm, so she wore layers today that included a sweatshirt and a tank top under it (photo for reference). She took off her sweatshirt at some point and was informed that her thin strap tank top wasn't allowed to be worn. When she asked why, she was told because "the strap could slip down and show your chest" and that it was against school dress code. So she was forced to keep her sweatshirt on and be hot all day, and she didn't understand why.

I'm extremely unhappy with the reasoning behind this apparent dress code, especially as it relates to such young children. I spoke with the principal before addressing it directly with the teacher, and was given the usual archaic reasons for such dress code enforcement: that it can be "distracting" and he said enforcement partly depends on "who else is in the classroom", both of which seem like problems that do not belong to a child wearing a tank top, but to the other people who are distracted, and why they are distracted by a child's body.

I disagree with the policy on the whole. It really sends the wrong message by furthering unhealthy views about women (especially very young girls, as it sexualizes them and makes them an object that must change according to the needs of the typically male gaze). This specific policy is also discriminatory, as it almost exclusively affects girls and women, and I'm appalled that this would be an issue especially at my daughter's age. I'm also aware of the ways dress codes like this often disproportionately affect black students and students of color, as these ideas about "impropriety" often extend into things like durags, hats, and hair bonnets, and sometimes even natural hairstyles themselves. This is yet another reason these dress code issues need to be addressed and rectified.

I have worked very hard to raise a self confident girl, who knows her body is her own and that it is not there for anyone else to comment on, touch, or otherwise shame her for, and policies like this undermine those things when we teach children that parts of their body (that are wholly unrelated to sex, I might add) are "inappropriate" or "distracting". I'd also like to know who is distracted by children's bodies, and why they are in the room with our children in the first place? 

I would very much like to work on changing these sexist, objectifying, and generally unnecessary policies within the Syracuse City School District so that teachers and kids can focus on education rather than policing kids' bodies and having their bodies policed, respectively. PLEASE ADD YOUR NAME if you agree that these outdated and sexist dress policies need to go, especially in elementary schools. After the almost two years of utter disruption to their classes, education, and lives, this is the last thing kids should need to worry about at school. Thank you in advance for your voice and your support. 

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