Student Sent Home for Outfit, Calls Out Sexism in School

Seventeen-year-old Carey Burgess, student body president at Beaufort High School in South Carolina, went to class expecting to learn. But in the first 20 minutes of school, a teacher stopped her in the hallway for her clothing – sending her to in-school suspension.

The student was wearing a khaki skirt, long sleeve-striped shirt with a collared blouse underneath – and the teacher said her skirt was too short. Carey tells BuzzFeed News she wore the skirt several times to school without an issue.

Carey took to Facebook to share her feelings about the incident and the post has gone viral.

“Thank you for teaching me that looking good for school is NOT appropriate,” she posts on Facebook with pictures of her outfit.

The school’s uniform dress policy – approved by the student government, faculty cabinet and the school improvement council – prohibits skirts shorter than three inches above the knee when standing.

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Principal Corey Murphy tells Yahoo! Parenting the length of Carey’s skirt appeared shorter in person than it did in the photo.

“The way it appeared in the Facebook photo, it would have been totally acceptable,” he says. “… it is not the garment itself, but the way it was worn.”

The teen explains in the BuzzFeed article that the bigger picture of her post was to shed light on sexism in the school. She heard a teacher refer to girls as “inferior females” in one classroom, another teacher telling sexist jokes in class – information she includes in her Facebook post.

Murphy says before the Facebook post, he was not aware of “sexist attitudes the school” but plans to follow up on that piece of information.

“I have no issue investigating it, but (students should) address it with the school first if they want to make it a change,” he says

And I agree.

The first step to a tackling a problem is to find someone to discuss it with who could put an end to it. Carey has every right to debate and open the chance for discussion about mistreatment and conduct.

Murphy and various teachers are supportive and listening to her complaints.

So did the teacher go too far? First, if she wore the skirt before without a problem then why did it deserve attention? And second, if the instructor found the skirt to be a violation, she could pull the student aside and privately talk with her.

But was Carey’s post the right direction to making a difference?

A few commenters believe her choice of words came with an attitude. In her post, Carey mentions the school having misogynistic views and how we live in a patriarchal society where, “I have to be kept in my place, or I may do something that is so rarely seen in Beaufort High School – learn.”

“The child would get further if she used a different tone in her writing,” says Number6, a commenter on the Yahoo! Parenting article. “Looking at the photo I was ready to side with her. After reading her essay I think she is not worth defending.”

Her stance for dress code and sexism needed to be discussed. However, how we handle situations matter. We may want change, but if we don’t find the right way to make it happen, it could end up getting worse.

Do you side with the student or the school? Tell us in the comments section below.

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