Recent debates over mask mandates at schools have now crept into dress codes, with one Tennessee mother insisting that her daughter doesn’t have to adhere to her high school’s rules for what and what not to wear.
The mom’s letter to the Hamilton County Schools board members, serving Chattanooga and the surrounding region, insists that the dress code is “misogynistic and detrimental to the self-esteem of young women.” She also took the “opt-out option” offered on the school’s mask mandate to be a blanket opt-out applying to all things worn, not just masks.
Mark Elliott shared the note on Twitter on Thursday afternoon, and as of Friday morning, it had garnered more than 24,000 likes and nearly 5,000 retweets.
“Kudos to this Chattanooga mom telling a Tennessee school board that her daughter is now opting out of ALL school dress code restrictions,” Elliott wrote. He shared the mom’s note, sent Wednesday evening, via screenshot.
At first, the note develops the idea that the dress code is biased against women, noting, “Rather than shaming young women into covering their shoulders (and other parts of their body), I believe we should empower female students to have agency over their own bodies and to wear clothing that is comfortable for them and contributes to their ability to enhance their learning experience.”
But she then goes on to skewer the officials for making an opt-out option available on a mandate meant to protect children—some who are still too young to get a vaccine, per the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorization guidelines for the approved COVID-19 vaccines.
“In light of the opt-out option related to the recently-announced mask mandate,” she noted, “I can only assume that parents are now in a position to pick and choose the school policies to which their children should be subject.”
“As someone who holds a strong commitment to my feminist ideals and my desire to raise my daughter to be a strong and empowered woman able to make choices for herself, I find that the school’s dress code does not align with my belief system,” she noted.
“I therefore intend to opt out of this policy and send my daughter to school in spaghetti straps, leggings, cut offs, and anything else she feels comfortable wearing to school. Please make a note that she is not, under any circumstances, to be dress coded, as I have clearly communicated my decision to opt out of this policy.”
The note had some synergy with a meme circulating around Twitter regarding masking policies in schools and a possible route for protesting schools that won’t enforce mask wearing.
But dress codes in the district have been in the news prior. In 2018, according to News Channel 9, East Hamilton Middle School announced a dress code just prior to the 2018-19 school year, “leaving some students and parents frustrated, and causing a lot of clothing confusion.” That mandate included a ban on tank tops, backless bra straps showing or bare midriff, sheer or see-through material, cap sleeves, cold shoulders, and yoga pants.
According to the Hamilton County Schools website, masking is mentioned as part of an overall COVID-19 safety plan for students. It notes, “Face coverings are a must,” and includes the statement, “I will wear my face covering at all times, unless I am in a well-ventilated area, such as outside, and can keep a safe social distance from other people.” (That statement does, however, include an asterisk and special stipulations for K-2 students.)
The Daily Dot has reached out to Hamilton County Schools for comment.
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