The 12-year-old was asked to leave class over a dress code violation but the principal refused to give a proper reason.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on September 28, 2021. It has since been updated.
Dress code has always been a contentious topic and it's become a source of controversy at a Washington middle school. A 12-year-old girl was asked to leave the school over her dress code, stated her mother while posting a video of her arguing with the school principal. The video was posted by the girl's Mom (@khalesei_holt) on TikTok showed a conversation between the pair and garnered close to 10m views and 1.4m likes. The 12-year-old was wearing a t-shirt and yoga pants but was reportedly sent home by the principal of Ford Middle School in Tacoma. The video sparked a fierce debate online, with many saying dress codes are sexist while some argued that the principal was right to send the girl home if she violated the dress code as told to students in the rule book.
The woman, who's a mother of three, was incensed her daughter was sent home for a dress code violation "at 12 years." As she records the conversation, the principal says she doesn't have permission to record the conversation and mentions attorneys. The woman continues recording and says it's for her own protection. “And the principle (sic) bringing up attorneys!!!!!!!! What a JOKE!!!!!!!!!!!!” she wrote as an in-caption in one of the videos. The video shows her daughter wearing a grey t-shirt and what appeared to be yoga pants for a brief moment in the video. It's not clear if the student got her dress violation for wearing that dress but it does appear so. "But she's still going to go class," asks her Mom. “Not right now,” the principal replies, standing her ground.
“So you’re taking her education away over her dress code?” she asks. The principal can be seen walking away as soon she asks this question, refusing to answer while on camera. It also appears to not be happening for the first time. “So, the principal’s walking away at Ford Middle School yet again over the dress code,” the Mom can be heard saying. The woman later posted the alleged rule book of the school pointing out that the principal was in the wrong.
The video sparked a debate with some siding with the principal, “Really? Mom doesn’t like the school dress code? Homeschooling is the solution and she can wear whatever she wants … stop whining, parents!” wrote one person. Some argued that the girl was wearing constituted a crop top, and thus exposing her midriff. One person sided with the parent, calling out the dress code. “If a teacher is distracted by a student’s body or clothing, they aren’t cut out to be a teacher, period,” they commented.
"Preserving a beneficial learning environment and assuring the safety and well-being of all students are primary concerns of the Board of Directors. Students' choices in matters of dress should be made in consultation with the parents," read the school handbook. Student dress shall only be regulated when, in the judgment of school administrators, there is a reasonable expectation that: a) health or safety hazard shall be presented by the student's dress or appearance, including possible membership in a gang or hate groups. b) material and substantial disruption of the educational process will result from the student's dress or appearance." There is no evidence of the 12-year-old creating a "material and substantial disruption of the educational process" by wearing a t-shirt and sweatpants.
As we reported earlier, a woman pointed out that dress codes are sexist and shame women. "Dress code is one of the earliest symptoms of rape culture in America," said TikToker Chan said in the video. "What is rape culture? It is victim blaming and blaming a woman for an assault that happens to her or other victims (It doesn't just happen to women)." She went on to explain how dress codes "at its core is grown adults sexualizing little girls" between the ages of seven and 17 and "blaming them for distracting male classmates."
"And if other people want to sexualize them, that's their fault as little girls and not the adults sexualizing them or the boys sexualizing them," said Chan. "So what happens to a little girl who wears shorts that are a little too short because it's all that she can afford? She is punished for it. She is told that it's her fault and she needs to change so that OTHER people don't sexualize her. This is instilling a victim-blaming culture mindset not only on that little girl but every single person growing up in the education system in the United States (because it's the norm.)" she pointed out.