Parents with daughters in junior high and high school are familiar with the sexist dress code policies concerning girls. It’s infuriating enough at that age, but imagine preschoolers having to grapple with those same rules. It’s a reality in one Texas preschool and this mother is simply not having it.
Mary McCoy writes for SheKnows of her search for a preschool for her daughter. She found one she loved, but not before visiting this “gem” of a school with the following dictate for the dress of it’s three and four-year old charges on the day the class goes to Chapel:
Chapel will be held on Thursday mornings at 8:20 am. All Pre-K students must wear chapel uniforms. Girls will need to wear modesty shorts under their jumpers.
McCoy rails against the policy saying, “I don’t even know WTF modesty shorts are, but they sound restrictive and institutionally sexist. As her mother, safety and common courtesy suggests that I should make sure she attends school with her body parts properly covered, but I am fundamentally not OK with a dress code policy that tacitly communicates to my daughter that her body is dangerous and fodder for adult policing.”
As far as what “modesty shorts” are, we can only guess that it’s just what it sounds like — a pair of shorts underneath the girls’ jumpers to prevent the sight of their My Little Pony underwear from being seen by….other preschoolers? Not only is it sexist, it’s beyond absurd. What exactly is the worry, here? That a child barely above toddler age would inadvertently let other kids or a teacher see her underwear? That a very young girl may accidentally expose a body part in church? It’s simply ridiculous that anyone even thought to make this rule.
The most infuriating part is how boys are largely exempt from these policies, whether it’s preschool or high school. Supporters of this brand of nonsense will point out that boys wouldn’t be wearing the jumpers, so of course, they aren’t mentioned in the dress code. Fair enough. But has anyone ever seen a boy that age with part of his bottom showing from the top of his pants? In my years of volunteering in my kids’ classrooms, I’ve seen plenty of little boys sitting on the rug at story time with their pants migrating downward. And like any normal adult who understands how life with young kids works, I thought nothing of it. They don’t have any shame about their bodies, nor should they. Yet, it’s only little girls being policed and made aware of their bodies with specific rules in place to prevent certain parts from showing. This should be deeply upsetting to all of us, not just parents of girls. This is institutionalized sexism and to see it implemented at such a young age is purely disgusting.
At the age of three, a girl shouldn’t need to think about what’s showing under her dress. She should only worry about playing, learning and enjoying being a kid. While her male classmates have no such concern cluttering the important business of being a preschooler, girls are being told to cover up and learning of “modesty.” To have on shorts lest they be indecent while sitting a certain way and absentmindedly showing their underwear. Can we all take a minute to appreciate how absolutely ridiculous this is? These are three-year old girls. They shouldn’t be ashamed of a single thing.