Sixth grade is a time for students to learn and grow, not only as a student, but as a person. Molly Neuner, a sixth grade student from Maine, was humiliated in front of her class when she was told her tank top didn’t “fit into the dress code”, which requires your straps to be two fingers wide. In protest, Molly and 20 other girls from the school showed up the next day with #IAmNotADistraction written on their arms.
The first time a teacher approached Molly was during snack time. She forced two female students to stand up before the class while she proceeded to measure Molly’s tank top straps and the other girl’s shorts.
Christina Neuner, Molly Neuner’s mom, told NBC News, “Her teacher called her friend and her up in front of the whole class and asked her to measure her tank top and her friend to measure her shorts. Molly’s tank top didn’t fit the 2 finger wide rule and her friend’s shorts fell above the shorts code because she’s very tall and has long legs. They were warned about facing detention if it was repeated.”
Molly also told the Portland Press Herald that her teacher “made [them] feel really uncomfortable.” She said, “It was really uncomfortable and weird.” Molly also mentioned that the school and community held a meeting on April 7, 2017 in order to discuss the school dress code – specifically the girl’s dress code.
She told NBC News, “They wanted to make sure girls didn’t wear clothes that would be distracting for the boys. That was their concern.”
According to the King Middle School dress code, girls are prohibited from wearing bandannas, hats, sport sweatbands, pajama pants, short or tight-fitting skirts or shorts (no shorter than fingertip length) thin strapped, revealing tops (like tube tops, halter tops or low cut tops). Boys, on the other hand, are simply prohibited from wearing tank tops.
Neuner’s mom commented, “I was like, ‘Are you kidding me? Is this 2017?’ The whole rape culture…this telling 11-year-olds to keep themselves covered or their bodies would be sexualized…crazy. It should be up to the boys to control themselves, not the girls by getting punished for tank tops.”
Molly will be working with Portland District Superintendent Xavier Botana to make appropriate changes to dress codes and empower other girls like her. Botana told the Portland Press Herald, “I don’t believe we should be dictating fashion or measuring the length of shorts if it’s not a material and substantial distraction. I would be hard-pressed to understand how the size of a strap makes a substantial and material disruption.”
Molly is an inspiration to all the girls who have been affected by school dress code rules or been approached by a teacher because their outfit was distracting to the boys in their class. After showing up to school with #IAmNotADistraction written on her forearm she mentioned to NBC News, “It just felt so empowering to know that other girls have looked up to me and that they are going through this. Now they have another reason to stand up for themselves.”
Sign Up For Our Newsletter