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Teen blasts school's discriminatory dress code with scathing brilliance

Julie Ryan Evans is an editor and writer who has covered everything from Capitol Hill to the politics of preschool. A mother of two, a runner of races, and a gourmet chef wannabe, she currently lives outside of Orlando, Florida.

After her dress was deemed a 'sexual distraction,' she fought back

It was those darn sexy shoulders. When 17-year-old Lauren Wiggins showed up to her high school in New Brunswick, Canada, in a colorful, full-length maxi dress, she promptly received a detention. The reason her principal gave — her dress was a "sexual distraction" to male students.

After her dress was deemed a 'sexual distraction,' she fought back

I could go on about how this kind of archaic, sexist kind of thinking gets my blood boiling, but Lauren already did it brilliantly. Instead of just taking her detention and getting a shawl or something, she fought back with a powerful letter that really gets to the heart of why cases like this are so outrageous.

On her Facebook page, she wrote:

Enough is enough. I'm tired of the unjust standards that we as women are held up to. I'm tired of the discrimination against our bodies, and I'm absolutely fed up with comments that make us feel like we can't be comfortable without being provocative. It's time to change the worlds mindset. Now.

Then she posted a picture of the three-page, handwritten letter she delivered to her teacher — a letter that got her suspended.

I have a concern I would like to bring to your attention. In today’s society, a woman’s body is constantly discriminated against and hypersexualized to the point where we can no longer wear the clothing that we feel comfortable in without the accusation and/or assumption that we are being provocative. This unjust mindset towards women is absolutely absurd.

She concluded:

So no, Mr. Sturgeon, I will not search for something to cover up my back and shoulders because I am not showing them off with the intention to gain positive sexual feedback from the teenage boys in my school. I am especially not showing them to receive any comments, positive or negative, from anybody else besides myself because the only person who can make any sort of judgment on my body and the fabrics I place on it is me.

If you are truly so concerned that a boy in this school will get distracted by my upper back and shoulders then he needs to be sent home and practice self control.

The fact that the school gave her a detention for this thoughtful, well-written letter is more maddening than the original detention. I can actually understand the detention, because she did break the established rules with the dress. The school's dress code prohibits "shirts exposing shoulders and/or backs and/or midriffs," such as tube and halter tops under "clothing that is excessively revealing for a school environment."

That doesn't, however, mean the rules are right, and to punish a student for voicing her opinion about why she disagrees is just wrong, especially when her argument is so right. Trying to eliminate the sexual distractions for males in school or anywhere is a laughable quest, and making women responsible for the job is just outrageous.

Bravo, Ms. Wiggins.

More on school dress codes

School dress codes are officially out of control when girls in floor-length gowns are barred from dances
School administrator uses black magic marker to 'fix' a boy's haircut
Why isn't a sundress appropriate for a 5-year-old?

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