The kindergartner was wearing an adorable dress given to her by her grandma
We’ve all read stories about the sexualization of girls in schools when their outfits don’t pass the dress code set by administrators. Usually, they involve shorts deemed “too short” or straps “too thin,” and they almost always target girls over boys. This next story is as infuriating as the others, not just because of the ridiculousness of the complaint but because of her age.
“The picture on the left is showing what my daughter was wearing to school this morning. The picture on the right is what I picked her up in,” mom Emily Stewart wrote on Facebook. “She is in kindergarten and she is 5.” Five. Years. Old.
Stewart explains that since the weather was nice this week in Minnesota, she decided to let her daughter, Harmony, wear a new dress her grandma had given her. “I sent her to school with a light sweater over her dress and jeans underneath of it.” OK, so not only did she have a dress on, she had a sweater on top and jeans underneath, which is beside the point but also makes this so much more infuriating.
When she picked her daughter up, she was wearing the outfit on the right because the school nurse told her she needed to “cover her body.”
Steward maintains that her intent isn’t to bash her daughter’s school, but that it brings up a discussion that clearly needs to happen. “As a mother, how am I supposed to teach my daughter to love and celebrate her body when she has people telling her she ‘needs privacy.'”
Harmony was taken out of class to go change, putting her outfit above her education. “It didn’t occur to me that an adult would look at my 5-year-old child and think that wearing a dress was inappropriate.”
Stewart discusses in another video post the situation in more detail, saying she emailed Harmony’s teacher to ask why she would be sent to the nurse and her teacher told her she felt her dress was hanging a little low and she felt she needed to change. She also talked about the school’s dress code, which was established in 1996, “encouraged students to be dressed appropriately for school activities” and that students should be dressed for the weather, and that their clothing should not “prohibit the health and safety of the student.”
She also listed the school’s definition of “appropriate attire” saying it not be too revealing, distracting, or a disruption of the education process.
When Stewart picked her child up, she told her mom she was asked to change because she “needs privacy” — and when her mom asked how it made her feel? “She started bawling,” Stewart wrote. She was excited to wear the dress to show her friends and play on the playground — because she is five years old.
“She said to me ‘I don’t know why they told me I couldn’t wear my dress. It was super embarrassing.'”
But — there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, that shows just how being an involved parent who isn’t afraid to speak against these arbitrary dress codes can help. Stewart’s willingness to share her story and stand up for her daughter actually got the language in the dress code updated. “This is definitely the beginning of the journey,” she wrote in her update. “I’m excited to see all the changes the school board will be and is currently making to the school dress policy.”
Good job, Mama!