School Expels Teen Over Outfit, Regrets It When Dad Steps In
He couldn’t believe it. The truth finally came out and he was standing there in utter confusion, his mouth open. The administrator finally let slip why his daughter’s school had singled her out.
He stood frozen in his track for a few minutes, listening to them berate his little girl, and eventually, he couldn’t stand it anymore. He cleared his throat, rolled up his sleeves, and prepared himself for a fight.
Tony Alarcon wasn’t a man to take things lying down. As a successful investment banker and real estate mogul, he was used to getting his way.
The things his daughter’s school was saying about his little girl were completely unacceptable. And when he saw her tear-stained face, he knew he had to use all his resources to make things right.
Tony’s daughter, Demetra, was mortified that she had been singled out that day. Although her situation was by no means unique, it didn’t make it any less embarrassing for the teenager.
When she’d picked out the outfit that had gotten her kicked out of school, she hadn’t seen anything wrong with it. So, what was all the fuss about?
The Outfit That Caused So Much Trouble
Although schools differ in their dress code policies, Demetra’s school didn’t insist on a uniform. All they asked was that what the students wore to school was modest.
But when Demetra picked out that cute little outfit one sweltering Californian morning, she never expected her clothes to cause such a stir – and result in a clash of epic proportions between the school and her own father.
Demetra’s outfit had become a hot-button topic overnight, and soon she was caught up in a whirlwind of media and public outcry. But why? After all, Demetra’s choice of clothing was no different from other girls her age. And on such a hot day, who could blame her?
Aside from all the attention, there was another outcome over her outfit that she never saw coming. And it was even worse.
Raymond J. Fisher Middle School is located in Los Gatos, California. On this particular day, it was 90 degrees and rising. Demetra chose the blue romper purely for comfort. Even so, there was just something about this outfit that would make everyone lose their minds.
In the first period, the teacher called her out in front of everyone. Then, the principal made the mistake of calling her father.
The principal gave Tony two options. One, he could come and fetch Demetra immediately, or two, he could bring her a change of clothes. Tony simply couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
He hadn’t noticed anything out of the ordinary or untoward with Demetra’s outfit today – and he would know. He was the one who had dropped her off that morning!
Seething, Tony decided to bring Demetra a change of clothes. He rifled through her drawers until he came across something that he thought was appropriate – a plain tank top and a pair of denim shorts.
He drove to the school and found his daughter waiting at the gate with tear stains on her face. But the school wasn’t done singling Demetra out just yet. Tony’s battle had only just begun.
What Was The Problem?
After Demetra had changed out of the offending outfit and into something else, the principal again said that her clothes were inappropriate. Now, Tony was furious. He asked the school’s administrator exactly what the problem was.
He even made Demetra bend over to demonstrate that her shorts were covering her adequately. He wouldn’t be satisfied until they told him the truth.
Standing Up For His Daughter
Not satisfied with the school administrator’s answer, Tony insisted that they tell him the real reason why his daughter was being singled out.
He had a suspicion, but in this day and age, he didn’t think that it couldn’t possibly be true. Even though he had prepared for this, he was still furious when they came right out and said it.
The school administrator then went on to explain that the dress code violation had nothing to do with modesty and everything to do with length.
She stammered that the romper Demetra had worn and the denims that Tony had picked out didn’t pass the “fingertip test.” But Tony knew that wasn’t the real reason.
Tony argued that the other girls in Demetra’s class were wearing similar outfits — he saw them for himself as he pulled into the parking lot.
Why weren’t they being pulled from class for wearing shorts and tank tops? And just what was the “fingertip test” anyway? Tony was becoming angrier by the minute.
The administrator explained that the “fingertip test” is the standard that the pupils of the school had to adhere to. Tony asked Demetra to relax and let her arms fall to her sides so that he could see for himself.
But the shorts’ hem fell just below her extended fingertips. Seeing that the furious father wasn’t going to accept this explanation, she quickly came up with another one. But when he heard it, Tony saw red.
Just exactly what was the school administrator insinuating about his daughter? He couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
He asked her to repeat herself so that he could process what she’d just said before flying off the handle. Of course, he thought cynically. Of course, the real reason had to do with the boys in Demetra’s class.
The administrator regretted the words that came out of her mouth instantly. Ha! Tony thought. Now he knew the real reason why the school had such a problem with the way his daughter dressed.
And he wasn’t going to take it lightly. The reason for his daughter’s tears wasn’t that the school had a certain image to adhere to or that she was dressed immodestly. It was because she could be a distraction to the boys in her class.
Cover Up, Or Get Out
Then, the administrator said that the only way Demetra would be allowed to attend her classes was if Tony fetched her some leggings to cover herself up with. In the 90-degree heat! Demetra and her father couldn’t believe the unfairness of it all.
Demetra felt like she was being picked on, and her father agreed with her. This school was about to get schooled.
Demetra quickly pointed out that the school dress code was never enforced on the boys in her class. She used wearing hats in class as an example. The school forbade wearing hats in class, yet the boys broke this rule all the time.
Even worse, they were never singled out in front of everyone and their parents called! Then, her dad decided to weigh in.
Not The Only Offender
Keeping his anger at bay, he pointed out that he’d noticed other students while he was in the parking lot who were definitely not following the rules.
He said that the girls, and his daughter, in particular, were being watched far more than the boys. How could this be fair? Then, he raised another important point.
On a day this hot, how could the girls wear leggings? He argued that the school’s dress code clearly didn’t allow for hot weather. Tony felt that some leniency should be given to students when temperatures are that high.
Wearing shorter, lighter clothing is a simple issue of being comfortable in the heat. The fact that his daughter couldn’t be comfortable due to distracted boys was unacceptable to him. And he wasn’t about to simply let it go.
Tony decided to get Demetra’s friends to voice their opinions on the matter, and they didn’t disappoint. Almost every girl he asked felt like the dress code rules were unfair and that the system was flawed.
These girls were being made to feel uncomfortable in the summer, all because the boys couldn’t control themselves? Tony refused to accept it.
Taking It To The Media
The angry dad took to the media with his daughter’s dilemma, appearing on Today and a few other local news reports. He voiced his concerns, but his biggest was how the school had made her feel that day.
He stated that a girl of her age only wants to be comfortable, nothing more. His daughter had been mortified when she had been pulled from class because of what she wore. But would Tony win the fight?
Fighting The System
When asked what the solution to the school’s outdated dress code would be, he proposed that it wasn’t up to the teachers to decide what they did and didn’t feel was appropriate.
He said that the decision should lie solely with the students’ parents. With his opinion gaining traction, Tony decided to go public.
A Bigger Issue
He proposed reasonable amendments to the school’s dress code, stating that “underwear and midriffs could not be visible” and that there should be “no shirts with spaghetti straps.”
But what he didn’t know was that he was just scratching at the surface of a much bigger issue in society. And not everyone agreed with Tony’s stance.
While most people were supportive of Tony, saying that he was uncovering the issue of body image and the objectification of girls.
Others said that if teenagers were allowed to wear what they wanted the education system would fall into chaos. One dad had caused such a stir that soon everyone was talking about the hot-button topic.
It wasn’t long before the school decided to respond to Tony’s accusations. They stated that the dress code was in place in order to establish guidelines for “reasonable decorum.” Tony, not backing down, was adamant that the school had completely overreacted to his daughter’s clothes.
Principal Fraser finally decided to hold a meeting and conceded that some compromises needed to be made. What those changes will be, only time will tell. But the debate about whether students should adhere to a dress code still rages on.
The main issue Tony has is that dress codes that objectify teen girls can cause emotional issues about body image down the road – and he’s not wrong.
“We have to have dress codes that are fair and reasonable, and don’t cause them emotional issues – cause them to question their bodies or feel like they’re sex symbols at 13 years old. Because they’re not. They’re just kids,” he said.
Something To Be Ashamed Of
Many school districts have invested millions in social and emotional learning and equity initiatives, but ironically, they still fail to address sexist dress codes for girls.
The message a young teen girl gets from schools with an inequitable dress code is that their bodies are something to be ashamed of and covered up. Exposed collarbones and spaghetti straps routinely get girls pulled out of class all over America. But girls in Georgia have had enough.
Who Is The Real Problem?
As an article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution puts it, schools seek to protect boys from “lost learning” and distraction but neglect girls’ social and emotional learning and prevent them from developing healthy identities with unfair dress codes.
The issue is so pervasive that a student in Monroe County, Georgia, rallied her female classmates and began a petition on Change.org to highlight these double standards.
What About The Boys?
The student enquired why the ‘fingertip test’ is not given to boys and why they are allowed to wear short shorts. The answer she received was dumbfounding.
“Boys wear shorts that are 6, 7, and even 8 inches above the knee. The answer I’ve gotten is that some guys have such long legs and it’s hard for them to find shorts that aren’t below their knee and aren’t really short,” the petition states.
The petition argues that “Girls have long legs too, and it’s hard to find shorts the appropriate length, so girls just simply don’t wear shorts at all.”
Instead, girls are forced to wear long pants in the three-digit summer heat for fear of being coded – or worse, having to submit to the ‘fingertip test in full view of their male classmates.
In one online parent forum, a mother in a suburban district was also fuming at the way her daughter was being treated at school.
Apparently, a male teacher felt it was appropriate to comment on her daughter’s body and took it upon himself to warn her about the dress code that she was not even violating.
Harassment and Discrimination
“She was walking into school, and a male administrator commented she was ‘growing, and her shorts would not be legal to wear for much longer,’” the mom wrote.
“How do you think it made my adolescent daughter feel that morning to walk into school and have a male adult comment on her legs and growth pattern? It’s truly sexual harassment and discrimination that’s happening in our public schools.” But what about Tony’s battle?
The Battle Rages On
Tony has drawn so much attention to Demetra’s school that they have been contacted by multiple news outlets to respond to the allegations and share their side of the story.
TODAY reached out to Raymond J. Fisher Middle School for comment but were referred to Los Gatos Union School District Superintendent Diana G. Abbati. So, what did she have to say?
“The Los Gatos Union School District believes that appropriate dress and grooming contribute to a productive learning environment,” Diana Abbati told TODAY in a statement.
“Students are expected to wear clothes that reflect the collective core values of our learning community.” She also mentioned that the principal of Raymond J. Fisher Middle School hosted a “dress code advisory work session” soon after the incident with Demetra. But what do other parents think?
“Follow The Damn Rules”
The internet is firmly divided on the issue of strict dress codes for girls. Some say Tony was taking things way too far and spoiling his child.
“Follow the damn rules. That’s all she and her daddy have to do. I personally like school uniforms. Everyone looks the same. Rich or poor and everyone is within the dress code,” one Facebook user sniped on an article about Tony’s fight.
A few other netizens, however, saw the bigger picture and understood what Tony was actually fighting for – they didn’t think he was bowing to his little girl’s every whim but rather taking a stand against the objectification of teenage girls.
“It’s utterly depressing to see that so few of you see that this is a sexist and equality matter. You whine about how women are treated unfairly in Muslim communities, but you don’t see that girls in your own communities are being oppressed by these dress codes,” one woman pointed out.
“Why should girls cover up for boys and male teachers not to be distracted? Teach your sons and men not to stare at girls’ bodies instead!” the woman’s comment concluded.
Another woman agreed: “The school district is putting this girl’s comfort and education below that of every male in the school. They are sending the message that she is somehow less important. I’m proud her dad stood up! Please take your 1950s gender standards and sit down!”
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.