Here we go again: Another teen girl, this time in Michigan, was hauled out of school and supposedly threatened with suspension for her very scandalous crime of hoping to be comfortable while in class.
By now we all are aware that leggings are educational Kryptonite, second only to Leia’s slave bikini as the worst thing you can wear to school. Unfortunately Madyson Friedlund, an eighth-grade student in West Michigan, missed the memo, so she went ahead and wore them, so of course the school had to kick her out of class. Seems totally legit, right?
Just kidding. It’s totally awful, which is why Madyson’s mom, Brooke Fields, angrily called out the school and the teacher for their poor handling of the “situation” with a now deleted public Facebook post that has garnered its fair share of attention. In it you can see Madyson, who looks like she’s had a good cry, wearing the evil outfit in question.
Take a look for yourself:
Are you not scandalized? Have you or have you not forgotten every last thing you ever learned about eighth-grade pre-algebra because of this girl’s pants? That was what her teacher feared would happen, according to Fields, who, in her original post, said, “My daughter was just told she was a distraction to the boys and sent home from school. She said to my daughter look the boys are already staring at you.”
In an interview with a local news outlet, Fields went on to say that her daughter is a straight-A student and had she not been there to pick her up, Madyson would have waited out the rest of the day in in-school suspension. The school says that’s not quite the whole story and insists that they talked to Madyson privately before giving her the boot, and really, her mortifying public dressing-down is all her fault, when you think about it. In a small novella sent to parents, dissecting the incident, Marshall Middle School principal David Turner explains why in items 1 through 3 on a 16(!)-point bullet list:
- The student was talked to privately at the teacher’s desk.
- The student was asked to go to the office to: have administration check that the clothing did not violate the dress code policy; avoid future questioning by other teachers (situation occurred during the first class).
- The student questioned why she had to go to the office (which then drew attention to the situation).
This is followed up by point 4, which is just so wow (emphasis ours):
- The teacher explained the following: The staff talked to all students about the dress code recently (within the last two weeks); stated that tights can be worn, but clothing must cover mid thigh; that she had been talked to before about dress code items; that her clothing could be distracting to boys.
Oh. Well, when you explain it like that, of course Madyson deserved to get in trouble. There are boys. They might have been distracted. And nothing — nothing — is more important than her male peers’ education, right?
In all seriousness, these stories get more and more tedious the more we hear them. They follow a simple formula:
Student wears something that could or could not be in violation of an arbitrary and female-focused dress code, usually leggings but sometimes even school-issued uniforms.
Student is publicly called out, usually in a way that involves shame or humiliation, and is typically punished in the same way they would be for a behavioral violation.
School sometimes fauxpologizes, always explaining that it was only thinking of the girls’ poor male peers, explaining that distraction in an educational setting is bad, with zero indications of irony.
As always, we’re left to wonder which is the more egregious distraction: a leggings-covered bit of thigh, or a school day that is completely upended because of the potential distraction that leggings-covered bit of thigh could maybe cause later. Never once does it appear that these distraction-avoidance measures seem to take into account that being humiliated, removed from class and accused of tawdriness is, well, pretty distracting.
To be honest, it’s hard to not feel like the boys’ education is being valued over the girls’.
For sure, there are some serious ways that today’s boys are getting shortchanged in school, and those absolutely require action. The thing is, exactly zero of the ways that boys are being left behind in school has anything to do with what their female peers wear.
There are plenty of threats to a boy’s education and academic success in school, but something off the clearance rack at Target isn’t one of them. When schools pretend like it is, they’re doing kids of both sexes a huge disservice.
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