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Spring means middle and high schoolers across the country are gearing up for formal dances. Getting ready for the dance is half the fun but students at Readington Middle School in New Jersey can’t get gussied up the way they want; the principal has banned strapless dresses, reported ABC News. The principal’s reason? Strapless dresses “are a distraction to the boys.”

Principal Sharon Moffat sent the letter home to parents earlier this month. The letter contained a dance dress code for both boys and girls but girls certainly bore the brunt of the restrictions. It stated, “Young gentleman are encouraged to wear collared shirts and trousers. Young ladies should wear a skirt, dress with straps or a dressy pants outfit.” Plenty of parents weren’t pleased. One parent, Charlotte Nijenhuis, talked to Principal Moffat who replied strapless dresses were too much of a distraction for the boys and that they’re age-inappropriate. Nijenhuis called the comment sexist and spoke to the superintendent of the district. She supported the principal. Another parent who spoke to ABC said, “[The principal’s] categorizing all these children unfairly. She’s saying the boys don’t know how to handle themselves.”

A message from the superintendent’s office stated the dress code for the dance was in line with the existing dress code for all schools across the board, but one parent interviewed said her older daughter wore a strapless dress to the same dance six years ago. She’s dismayed she couldn’t send her younger daughter to the dance in the same dress. Parents are leading the charge to petition the school to change the dress code. However, one brave student said she was going to the dance in the strapless she bought, no matter what.

Principal Moffat is dead wrong. It’s sad this needs to be said again, but it’s important to teach boys they can’t take advantage of someone no matter what they wear and both boys and girls need to know not to label someone based on their clothes. Of course, girls shouldn’t look too sexy at too young an age but insisting on sleeves and straps sends the messages girls are responsible for (and should be ashamed by) any sexist treatment they receive and boys can freely give that treatment.

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