West Bend students create petition, protest enforcement of dress code

NOW: West Bend students create petition, protest enforcement of dress code

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WEST BEND, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A dress code in West Bend preventing female students from wearing midriff shirts and anything that shows cleavage has students and parents fighting back.

One girl we spoke with says she was pulled out of her advanced placement class because she was wearing a top that showed her belly button. That boys aren't held to the same standards, she says, is irritating because no one would look twice if a boy took off his shirt. 

The superintendent tells us West Bend's student dress code was actually approved in 2018. Students say while that may be true, no one was enforcing it until this month.

"And it all started with the new administration. So before you could wear whatever you want, but then they got new principals and all that and that's when they changed the dress code policy," said Mason Ellis, student.

At West Bend's east and west high schools, both male and female students told us the policy is body-shaming to young ladies.

"I think they have better things to be worrying about, like the school environment," said student Keaton Burg. 

Burg showed us a Snapchat that encouraged students to take a stand.

"There was a post going around saying to wear -- like all girls wear crop tops," said Burg.

"And all I said was wear a crop top or a muscle T or whatever you're comfortable, just to silently protest the school, and they acted like it was the end of the world," said Durian.

Carly Durian says she's been pulled out of class twice in the last 10 days for wearing something like what she wore to this school board meeting.

"I believe that the newly-enforced dress code at our school limits self-expression of students and over-sexualizes girls," Durian told the school board Monday night.

Durian started a petition on Change.org. It's got nearly 2,000 signatures and is still growing.

"They're basically saying it's your fault if you get raped, like that's kind of what we're all hearing from this," said Durian.

In a statement, West Bend's superintendent tells us the student/family handbook, which families sign at registration, fully communicates the expected dress code as part of expectations for students.

"I just don't think that it's the clothing that we need to be focusing on. If the school is worried about dress code, they need to be worried about teaching men and women what not to do," said Durian.

High school admin and the student council are meeting this week to come up with a way for people to express their concerns about the dress code. The board does plan to review the policy at some point this school year. 

In a statement, West Bend School District Superintendent Jen Wimmer said:

"The board policy 443.1 Student Dress was approved June 18, 2018 for the district. Student/family handbooks then further articulate what this means so students and families can discuss and follow expected practice. As part of the registration process, families sign off that they have received the student/family handbook and the High Schools communicated the expected dress code prior to the start of the year, further alerting families that this would be addressed as part of expectations for students.
High school students have brought forward questions and concerns regarding expectations for student dress and the high school administrators and the student council are meeting this week to establish a constructive process for feedback on this topic and others. We look forward to having the students work with the high school administrators, student council representatives, and student council executive board. I’m confident the groups will work well together.
The board regularly reviews policies. This policy will be reviewed at some point during this school year. Should the work at the school level require review of the board policy sooner, it will be scheduled."
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