'Girls at my high school just got dress coded for the dumbest reasons, like ripped jeans or a rip too high or wearing leggings,' said one student.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on October 2, 2022. It has since been updated.
A group of teenage boys became a beacon of hope for people across the world after a video showing the boys taking a stand against their school's sexist dress code policy garnered attention on TikTok. Initially posted by 17-year-old Mason Boudreau—one of the students who took part in the protest—the clip shows the boys showing up to school in crop tops in an effort to highlight the double standards in how female students are often subjected to disciplinary action because of their clothing choices. Speaking to the Daily Dot, Boudreau explained that they decided to stage the protest as many students were fed up with the biased dress code enforced by their school, College Heights Secondary School in British Columbia.
"Girls at my high school just got dress coded for the dumbest reasons," he said, "like ripped jeans or a rip too high or wearing leggings." In an attempt to expose the school's sexist bias, Boudreau gathered a group of other boys in his grade on Snapchat and told them to wear crop tops or "scandalous clothing" to school to see if they would be punished the same way female students were. While Boudreau cut up a T-shirt to make a crop top, other boys borrowed clothing from their sisters and girlfriends. On the day of the crop top protest, the school administration took no action against them.
"There was probably about 15 of us... and none of us got sent home," Boudreau revealed. "And we walked past the principals and they wouldn't really do much. It was really weird to see." Only one of the protestors was allegedly handed a dress code violation later in the day because his shirt had spaghetti straps. Many of their fellow students—especially girls—loved the protest and were happy to see the boys draw attention to the school's sexist policies, Boudreau said. One teacher reportedly even told them in private that she thought it was a great idea.
So far, the school administration hasn't acknowledged the boys' protest or made any changes to its dress code. While the boys haven't planned a follow-up crop demonstration yet, Boudreau said, "If it gets bad again, we might possibly do it again in the future." The video of their protest went viral after another TikTok user, Solvej Wren, reshared the original video and praised the teenagers for taking a stand against sexism.
Reacting to Boudreau's video, Wren said that moms are really proud of the boys for challenging the world that's often unfair and hostile to girls. "This is what I'm talking about when I tell people that Gen Z is creating a world that I will be comfortable birthing a daughter into or a son into," she says in the video. "Thank you, guys, your moms are really proud of you." Speaking to Bored Panda, Maggie Sunseri—the brains behind the viral documentary "Shame: A Documentary on School Dress Code"—pointed out that dress codes are just one example of the systemic sexism rampant across schools and society as a whole.
"They reinforce the notion that women are responsible for the actions of men, and also that women's bodies are inherently sexual. This is especially problematic when applied to minors and children, as it's a form of sexualization and objectification of young, impressionable students," she said. "What school dress codes tell young girls is that there is something wrong with their natural bodies and that they are responsible for men's choices. They teach young girls to feel ashamed."