High school officials told a teen girl that she either had to cover up or leave the school dance when they spotted her “revealing” dress. They claim that it was showing a little too much skin. Was the school right or wrong?
Although most educators would rather focus on teaching young minds, there are still non-curricular rules put into place to ensure that students remain focused on their education. Of course, one such regulation that has caused controversy and sparked debate over its necessity is the dreaded dress code. Gabi Finlayson experienced this firsthand.
While teens sometimes test their school’s guidelines for proper attire, most of these violations are easily identifiable. Showing cleavage, wearing sagging pants that reveal one’s underwear, and sporting inappropriate messages are typically banned in public schools. However, what Gabi was chastised for wearing to a formal dance has many viewers wondering if it was the student who crossed the line or the school officials.
When Lone Peak High School announced their annual Preference Dance, student Gabi Finlayson knew exactly what she was going to wear. Emulating her idol Audrey Hepburn, Gabi planned to attend the dance in a pale lace dress she had purchased in Paris.
Knowing that her dress must be in compliance with the school’s dress code, Gabi slightly modified the gown to ensure that she would have no trouble wearing it at the formal event. Unfortunately for her, she wouldn’t even make it past the entrance before being turned away for what the school labeled inappropriate attire.
According to Gabi Finlayson, she was told by a teacher to put on a shawl since she was apparently showing too much skin. The teen told KUTV that she felt “embarrassed” that the school believed “somehow my shoulders are sexualized.”
Despite the fact that her dress appears to be quite modest, the school sent her back to her car to retrieve a winter coat, which she was forced to wear over her gown for the entire evening. Out of a total of 1,200 students, Gabi was one of only four students who were told to cover their shoulders.
Principal Rhonda Bromley sided with the school officials, reiterating that students are required to abide by the dress code.
“Formals, backless dresses and/or tops may not extend beyond the bottom of the shoulder blades. Girls’ dresses and tops must have a 2″ minimum strap on each shoulder. Shawls, boleros and other shrugs are acceptable if worn over the dress at all times. Cleavage covered.”
However, Gabi explained that the straps on her dress coincide with the 2-inch minimum width. Additionally, she claims that there were a number of students at the dance who wore far more revealing and tight-fitting dresses yet were not asked to cover up. She told KUTV that a lot of dresses “were very short, very tight,” and “a lot more exposing or revealing than mine.”
Gabi says that she was chastised for wearing what most people would consider a modest and appropriate dress, adding that she believes the rule makes it the girls’ “responsibility to make sure the boys’ thoughts are not unclean.” She continued that the school officials are making it seem as though a girl’s shoulders are “pornographic” and that showing them is a “shameful thing.”
Gabi concluded that the burden lies on the boys to refrain from viewing women as “sex objects,” and that the school is perpetuating this notion by restricting a female student’s right to choose what to wear. “Maybe instead of teaching girls they should cover themselves up, we should be teaching boys that we’re not just sex objects that you can look at and derive pleasure,” said Finlayson.
Gabi Finlayson and her mother went to the news station in an effort to bring attention to what they believe are double standards and harmful teachings on sexuality. Still, many are torn on the idea of school dress codes. While it’s reasonable to have standards when it comes to how children portray themselves at school, it begs to discuss whether the school has gone too far in its focus on clothing.
Incredibly, the incident has gained national attention and has sparked debate on what is the appropriate approach to school dress codes and the students who are forced to comply with them. Do you think her dress was ok? Share this with your friends and start a discussion.