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Is This Crew Neck Too Low? Just Another Example of School Dress Codes Gone Mad

Photograph by Twenty20

When is a crew neck not a crew neck? Apparently, if it’s part of a shirt you’re wearing at Dickson County High in Tennessee. Administrators at the school are experiencing severe neckline confusion when it comes to their dress code and students, and parents are taking to social media to let it be known that they aren’t having any of it.

While the dress code states that students are required to wear “a collared and/or crew neck top with sleeves,” some students are being forced to use valuable class time tend to their wardrobes—even though their clothes appear to adhere to the rules.

For example, senior Tori Taylor tweeted out a photo of her outfit that got her a dress code violation: a blouse whose neckline is practically up to her neck, covered by a jacket. The girl looks like she’s dressed and ready for church.

“I was honestly baffled,” the 17-year-old says of being called out for her modest outfit. “I didn’t see what the issue could’ve been with it.”

Another student, Bree Beard, was reprimanded for her crew-neck top with elbow-length sleeves. Beard was told initially that her bra straps were showing, but when she asked if she could fix her bra so it would comply with the rules, school administrators told her she was still out of dress code because her shirt had the wrong type of crew neck.

“I was confused and a little upset because I bought that shirt and more like it the day before,” the high school senior said, “And if I couldn't wear that, then none of my other shirts would work. Also, I wore the same type of shirts last year and never got in trouble for them.”

Hey, I get it—a girl wearing a shirt like this is obviously not equipped to learn. That neckline might prevent her from being able to conjugate a verb or calculate an equation. And those sleeves .... how can she be expected to compose a meaningful essay with her wrists exposed?

Parents are up in arms (no pun intended) about the ridiculous dress-code non-issue, and are venting their frustrations on the school’s Facebook page. “Congratulations to the students of DCHS for fighting for their rights!!!” one mom wrote. “The dress code is the stupidest thing here ... I understand a dress code should be implemented (no pajamas, daisy dukes, or low-cut crop tops) ... But if you're sent to suspension because your jeans are fraying at the bottom, you're wearing a V-neck or blouse, that's when I'm ready to have a fit.”

Go, mom! Have that fit—I’ll gladly hold your reasonably sized, within-dress-code earrings.

I have my own dress code horror story: When my daughter was in the seventh grade, she was yelled at by a counselor and marched to the principal’s office while she was having a conversation with another teacher in the middle of a crowded hallway. Her infraction: The straps of her top—which she was wearing over another top— were less than the required width of two inches. Hers were 1-¾” wide (yes, I measured them.) Boys wearing athletic tank-tops with straps less than two inches? No problem.

The teacher she was talking to tried to intervene, saying she saw no infraction and that she thought it was ridiculous to interrupt my daughter’s school day. The counselor persisted and, after delivering my daughter to the principal’s office, even demanded that her parents be called.

Which they did, which resulted in my being dragged away from work to deal with this: my straight-A, non-troublemaker kid’s ¼" shirt-strap deficit. I was livid. This was clearly some sort of perverse power play on the other counselor’s part.

The bottom line is this: School administrators should worry more about overcrowded classrooms, bullying and graduation rates, and less about the width of the strap on a girl’s shirt, or the half-inch of skin showing above her Forever 21 top.

Or was there more to it? Three days later, my daughter said the same counselor came up to her while she was out on the yard for lunch and commented on the jeans she was wearing. “Aren’t you going to be hot in those pants?”

It was a long time ago, but my kids recall that my subsequent yelling made the streets buckle and all small animals within a five-mile radius scurry into hiding. There was no social media back then or I would have spent an entire day posting a tirade on Facebook and releasing a Tweetstorm of epic proportions. (The school did nothing about my complaints, but that’s an issue for another story.)

The bottom line is this: School administrators should worry more about overcrowded classrooms, bullying and graduation rates, and less about the width of the strap on a girl’s shirt, or the half-inch of skin showing above her Forever 21 top. (And yes. I’m only referencing girls because females get dress-coded far more than their male counterparts, and often in ways that result in body-shaming.)

I get it. There need to be some guidelines in place so that kids don’t roll up to class in a chainmail bikini or their favorite "Game of Thrones" battle gear. But most school dress codes are horribly outdated and sexist, and students and parents need to continue to fight back to expose them and have school administrators answer for their methods.

So keep tweeting and posting your stories, until dress codes that target and body-shame girls are eliminated—one ridiculously high crew neck at a time.

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