Petition protests Hardaway High’s dress code

Leggings are thin or tight and stretchy pants.
Leggings are thin or tight and stretchy pants.

An online petition against Hardaway High School’s dress code has attracted more than 100 supporters.

The main complaint is about leggings, specifically the rule that considers the thin or tight and stretchy pants as “undergarments” and mandates that “any top or dress worn over leggings must provide adequate coverage all the way around.”

Hardaway’s dress code defines “adequate coverage” as no shorter than 5 inches above the knee.

Created anonymously, the petition at collected 103 supporters as of Friday afternoon. The petition states:

“The dress code at Hardaway takes girls wearing perfectly appropriate and unrevealing outfits and takes them into ISS (in-school suspension) instead of letting them continue their studies in class. What's more important — us getting an education or us wearing leggings? If boys are so distracted by us wearing perfectly appropriate outfits, they should not be in a school environment to begin with. We want an end to the oppression and sexist behavior that the administration has been pushing onto us!”

The protest also has an Instagram page, which attracted 144 followers as of Friday afternoon, and contends, “Sexualization of our bodies is being prioritized over our education.”

The Ledger-Enquirer emailed Hardaway principal Matt Bell links to the petition and the Instagram page and asked for his response. He referred the L-E’s questions to Muscogee County School District communications director Valerie Fuller, who replied in an email, “What you have sent appears to be an anonymous posting from the Internet, which we cannot address, confirm, or validate.”

Fuller, however, did email the L-E a statement attributed to Bell:

“There have not been any incidents of females being assigned to ISS for dress code violations this year. When we have an infraction, the student waits in ISS until a parent can bring a change of clothing. If the parent cannot come, the student remains in ISS for that day. There have only been 7 incidents where a student’s parents were contacted. In 5 of the 7 incidents, the parents brought a change of clothing or the student had other clothing in their locker/car. The policy is not new. We have followed the same policy for the past several years.”

The school district’s student handbook has a general systemwide dress code but allows each school to determine specifics.

Rule 16 in MCSD’s student handbook states: “It is not the intent of the Muscogee County School District to dictate the quality or style of clothing worn, but rather an effort to encourage good habits and acceptable group behavior. A student shall not dress, groom, or wear or use emblems, insignias, badges or other symbols where the effect thereof is to distract unreasonably the attention of other students or otherwise to cause disruption or interference with the operation of the school.

“It is prohibited for any student to wear clothing items which advertise alcoholic beverages, sex, tobacco, obscene, crude or suggestive messages or use of profanity. Designs or insignias that are part of a haircut, satanic symbols, gang-related badges, insignias and colors; logos or symbols which denigrate social or ethnic groups are also prohibited. ‘Fake’ alcohol or drug advertisement is also disallowed.

“Individual schools may create a school-specific dress code, and are permitted to designate uniforms or apparel for students to wear. The schools shall present their choice to the Board of Education for review.”