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Students Speak: Bras Part of Dress Code at AHS?

Students Speak: Bras Part of Dress Code at AHS?

Wednesday, May 13th 2015 an announcement made at Asheville High School sent tidal waves through the school. According to accounts from students, Principal Joyce Best has now mandated that proper undergarments are a requirement for female students. Specifically, girls are required to wear bras to adhere to the dress code policy. This outraged students, who brought the report back to their parents.

When asked for clarification, Principal Best provides a transcript of the announcement:

“Attention students and staff: We need help in enforcing the dress code. You cannot wear short shorts and skirts and spaghetti straps and be braless. Shorts and shirts must be at mid thigh. To measure mid thigh, put your arms at your sides and mid thigh is the end of your fingertips. Tops must have straps of at least two fingers. We have been asking you not to wear these things to school and you continue to do so. Consider this a final warning about dress code. We will begin enforcing this tomorrow. Teachers, we need your help. Thank you to all students who follow the rules.”

This seems reasonable enough to those not currently attending Asheville High School. However, the students at the school bring a different story. Several students brought forth concerns about the amendment to the dress code policy, and voice concerns about the bra mandate bordering on sexual harassment. “A student was told to put a bra on, and then checked by a faculty member to ensure she was wearing one,” we heard from Jane* who attends Asheville High School.

While it is more than reasonable to expect students to dress appropriately, requiring female students to be wearing bras appears to have gone too far. “Just got dress coded by a teacher,” a student reports. She goes on to say “I asked if they were serious, and was told that it is in the constitution that staff members have the authority to authorize a respectable learning environment.” The student in question was wearing clothing that adhered to all other dress code policies – her shirt covered her shoulders, back, and cleavage. At the time that she was cited, she was wearing a cardigan as an additional layer of coverage.

On Friday, over 15 girls were asked if they were wearing proper undergarments. Alice* was one of those students, and when she was questioned, her clothing included a long sleeve t-shirt and camisole. “There was a teacher that made girls to turn to the side to prove they were wearing a bra,” Alice states. “There are boys here that have bigger chests than some of the girls, why are we the only ones that are being targeted?”

The students bring up a valid point. Pulling girls out of class, making them turn to the side to view their profile, or being asked to show proof of wearing a bra appears to be taking things too far. Parents have reported that their high schooler has come home feeling uncomfortable, saying that male teachers were staring at their chests during class to try and determine if they have a bra on.

Teachers at Asheville High School are saying that students are misunderstanding the morning announcement. The explanation is that girls are not being checked for wearing proper undergarments, but that instead the teachers are showing the students how to moderate themselves. However, teachers have also been asked to not talk to the media about the incident, with one teacher breaking that rule and going so far as to call a local radio show to discuss the issue.

Principal Best insists that the female students need to “dress right.” Faculty members have recommended that concerned students should approach Principal Best with a co-ed fair dress code. “Guys can sag their pants down to their knees and not get sent home,” student Eve* says. “This bra mandate doesn’t make sense. I wish they would just make an announcement about it. None of this makes sense to us, and teachers and faculty members keep contradicting each other,” Eve* says. “She [Principal Best] needs to be very clear about it. We are all confused.”

The high school dress code policy states that:

The primary goal of Asheville City Schools is to provide a safe learning environment are able to achieve at their highest potential. The personal appearance of every student is a component of establishing a safe environment for optimal learning and respect for one another. Students are expected to adhere to standards of dress and appearance that are compatible with a learning environment.

The following specific items are not permitted:

  • Sunglasses worn inside school building
  • Hats, caps, hoods, hoodies, sweatbands, do-rags, scarves and bandannas are not to be worn inside the school building
  • Shorts and skirts shorter than mid thigh
  • Tops with straps must be at least two inches wide
  • Any other article of clothing that is physically revealing or provocative
  • Clothing that displays inappropriate pictures and words or phrases
  • Anything identified by law enforcement or school administration as gang related.

In addition, the following Asheville High School Dress Code rules remain in effect:

  • Underwear may not be worn as outwear or be visible at any time
  • Pajamas may not be worn to school
  • Tops must cover shoulders, backs, bust (including cleavage) and stomach
  • Pants should stay up without having to be held up

Students with questionable dress will be sent to their grade level administrator.

Readers, how does this make you feel? Do you think the administrators at the school are correct in appearing to mandate that female students to wear bras?

*Students names were changed for their privacy. 

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3 comments

  1. dnalepoc.remmit123@gmail.com'

    Concerning the “transcript” of the announcement that was provided by Ms. Best, I can assure you that she did not provide the announcement in those words. Her announcement was clearly not scripted, she had an agitated tone, and she made comments on how “this is not the Cougar cougar club”. Ms. Best has provided you false information, and anyone else who heard her can back me up.

  2. venusmiled@gmail.com'

    “Staff members have the authority to authorize a respectable learning environment.” By pulling girls out of class and forcing them to stand for examination of their offending body parts against their will?

    “The explanation is that girls are not being checked for wearing proper undergarments, but that instead the teachers are showing the students how to moderate themselves.” By showing the girls the discrimination they will face from other adults when they are full grown women and teaching them to just shut up and take it, now?

    “Principal Best insists that the female students need to ‘dress right.’ ” By whose standards? That’s incredibly subjective. Not to mention puritanical, and not part of the cirriculum.

    “The personal appearance of every student is a component of establishing a safe environment for optimal learning and respect for one another.” Teenage boys are not being taught respect for girls through ANY of this. They are effectively being shown how to dehumanize girls, view them only as “parts” and that it’s okay to stare at their bodies well beyond the point girls are uncomfortable.

    This is so much utter nonsense… I feel sick!!

  3. prettycraftykitty@gmail.com'

    So given this policy, our kids can not wear hats and scarves to school or if they feel cold during the day to avoid getting sick. Boys can wear pants that sag and show their crack but girls can not wear a camisole under their shirt instead of a bra, which many health professionals in the breast cancer field indicate could be increasing risks of cancer. Camisoles were worn for hundreds of years, long before bras which are binding and unhealthy. This does not sound like someone who is keeping their students in their best interest. Instead it sounds more like someone who is more fundamentalist/right wing trying to control kids at all costs, even their health.

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