No tight pants. How about NO victim blaming, instead?

The 1950s called. They want their discriminatory dress code back.

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Bad joke. I wish the news out of Devils Lake, N.D., today were just a bad joke, too.

If the ’50s were calling, the Devils Lake Public Schools phone would be ringing. That’s where officials have enacted a ban on girls wearing jeggings, leggings, tight jeans and yoga pants.

According to a report on Valley News Live today, the assistant principal “…said this new dress code is a way to prevent distracting teachers and other students.” And just that quickly, Devils Lake Public Schools went from morally high ground to blaming victims.

Yes, victims. If teachers and fellow students are oogling girls, it’s disgusting. If their actions go beyond oogling, its sexual harassment. And who are the victims of either? The girls.

Make no mistake. This is the argument of an attorney defending an accused rapist. Without using the exact words, the school is saying “they’re asking for it because they dress too provocatively.”

Never mind about educating students and teachers, be they male or female, about self-control or what’s right and wrong. If teachers or other students have a problem with what someone is wearing, they either shouldn’t look or should check their emotions so it isn’t a problem. Because – and this can’t be made clear enough – the problem is the teachers and fellow students, not 16-year-old girls wearing tights.

Let’s not even get started on the fact that the school  forced the girls to sit through segments of “Pretty Woman” and have their clothing choices compared to those of a prostitute. Seems to me that when a school official draws parallels between someone’s daughter and a whore, the ACLU is the least of the school’s worries.

I can’t put it any better than Area Voices blogger kttbirdd, who writes Many Hats & Bad Hair Days:  “Devils Lake Public High School has a sexual harassment policy. It is clear on the website. What they are stopping by banning leggings are actions that already have consequences.”

Ironically, just above the district’s sexual harassment policy is a statement of its commitment to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, “… which commit all North Dakota schools to the elimination of discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, or handicap in those programs and activities offered to its students.” So, for activities the school will not discriminate based on sex, but it has no qualms about doing so when it comes to apparel.

Kttbirdd also points out that to apply the ban fairly, girls’ volleyball and boys’ football uniforms should go, too. I’ll add tight, boot-cut jeans on boys. And wrestling uniforms. I mean, egads, they’re tight.

Speaking of tight, just who, exactly, is going to judge what is and what isn’t, what’s distracting and what’s not?  I’m distracted by people who wear bright, gaudy shirts. Those big hoop earrings that require a huge hole in the wearer’s earlobe bug me. I avert my eyes when people squat down in front of me and their butt cracks grin above their waistbands. And the sight of people wearing baggy jeans down around their haunches rather than around their waists, sometimes to the point where they have to hold them up with one hand, drives me mad. Do I really want to see their underpants? No.

Should any of these people be required to change so I am not distracted? Vehemently I say, NO.

Certainly dress codes have their place, but they need to be applied fairly and reasonably. This one is not.

The issue is not distraction, but basic human decency, people’s right to express themselves and, most importantly, the right of everyone, male or female, to be treated like everyone else. Especially in public institutions.

Females, be they girls or women, deserve these rights, just like their male counterparts. Devils Lake Public Schools needs to rein in the people who apparently – bad joke alert – are bent on demonstrating who’s wearing the pants by telling others what pants they can’t wear.

Immediately.

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