Stories about schools enforcing strict dress codes on female students aren't rare. Many times, young girls around the world are singled out or excluded from class because of blatant gender bias that serves to disrupt and negatively impact their learning experiences.
Texas assistant principal, Phil Morgante, is catching heat over some comments he made about dress code during a school assembly. Fusion reported the comments and the fall out for the Clements High School educator.
Ladies, I know you’ve been working on your abs since the Olympics, right? But your shirts can’t be up here. It’s gotta cover the whole gut…Ladies, I blame you all for boys’ low grades because of tight clothing.Phil Morgante
Morgante is clearly talking about crop tops, a style which looks set to remain on trend forever. However irksome school administrators may find trends like ripped jeans and crop tops, this manner of discourse is toxic and prioritizes the learning experiences of young men over girls.
This is bigger than you and me. This is about changing a mindset that has been taught and reinforced for years.— Elena Aguirre (@ElenaAguirreU) September 2, 2016
Some students even spoke out on the news about how disturbing they found their AP's comments to be.
To be fair, many students have come to Morgante's defense, saying that he is a nice man who misspoke, which very well may be the case.
However, this is more about confronting language that reinforces the fallacy that when men make mistakes, it's always somehow a woman's fault. If a man assaults a women, it is because of the clothing she was wearing. If a boy does poorly in school it's because he saw a girl's shoulder blades.
Many administrators talk like this to students because they don't know how else to address the issue. This is the way they were spoken to and they are the ones crafting dress code policy today.
But talking like this is harmful. It's harmful to girls and it's especially harmful to boys who are being taught that whatever mistakes they make can be absolved by shifting the blame onto their female peers.