From an SD33 Alumna
I have little to say regarding the specifics of Trustee Heather Maahs’ comments about dress standards for girls in SD33. However, I would like to offer my own experiences as a female student in her school district with regard to dress codes, sexual harassment, and ‘distractions’.
I am lucky to have come from a family of strong Christian believers who raised me to value modesty. As a result, I have never had trouble adhering to dress codes – in fact, I preferred to cover up, especially while I attended middle school.
However, my modesty did not protect me from being catcalled, harassed, and groped by my male classmates, beginning at the age of 13. I did everything right, and tried hard to ensure that no one ‘got the wrong idea’ about me. My male classmates would undo my bra straps, try to pull down my shirt, or put their hands down my pants, and the only recourse was to tell a teacher after the fact – never once did a complaint result in discipline for my classmate. As a Christian girl who believed in modesty, I became accustomed to minor sexual assaults by age 15. My modesty did not protect me.
If we are having a conversation about distraction in the classroom, we need to have a serious conversation about the psychological impact of this sort of harassment on female children. Furthermore, if my clothing could not protect me from my classmates, how could it have protected me from teachers who get ‘distracted’ by their students’ bodies?
I would like to finish this letter by thanking my teacher at Sardis who helped me to stand up after one such case of sexual harassment.