Last Friday, Heather Wells and her peers protested their school’s oppressive dress code, which bans tank tops and body piercing. Heather told us that they got, “enormous support with the other people in our school helping out and wearing tank tops, but the administration wasn’t as helpful, to put it mildly.”
On the day of the protest, they initially spoke to their assistant principal. “He was very open-minded about the whole thing. He actually listened to what we had to say. Then he sent us to the principal of our school,” said Heather.
Protests are rarely well received by intolerant government officials and Heather’s protest was no exception. According to Heather, the principal, “interrupted us while we were trying to calmly explain the whole thing, and jumped to conclusions about everything we said. He told us we made really bad analogies, and that we were going to bomb the school because we said something about it making the students tense because we are in a â€˜high riskâ€™ school.”
The principal took their petitions and claimed that he would present their opinion to his supervisors. He then gave in-school suspensions or sent home those students who joined the protest by wearing tank tops.
The protest was a success because many students participated and they got to discuss the issue with the principal. In addition, the protest prompted all students and teachers to reconsider the harsh dress code, which excessively limits individuality.
Heather and her fellow protestors vow to continue their fight. Their protest and petition were just the beginning.
May 20, 1999
I would like to thank you again for all the support and advice you have offered on our fight against the dress code. I will have a flier available for you as soon as I can. Also, maybe I came off saying that this was all my idea, and that is wrong. I have had a lot of supprt from my friends and everyone who has signed our petitions and agreed to wear tank tops and piercings to school tomorrow. It would be greatly appreciated if you could post the names of my friends who have helped me with the petitions and protest: Ada Thompson, Rachael Gaff, Mollie Pease, Josh Reynolds and Emily Bedwell.
May 18, 1999
What my friends and I are doing right now is petitioning our friends, and other people at our high school. We need 500 signatures before our school board will take it into consideration. So far, we have about 250 and it has only been two days.
This Friday [5/21/99], we all plan to protest the school’s unfair ban on tank tops and body piercings by wearing them to school, to protest and show how much support we have. Were passing out fliers tomorrow through Thursday and we have told everybody who has signed our petitions, and most all of them have agreed.
We are doing this for two reasons. One, We feel that this rule bans us from expressing our individuality by limiting the way we dress and adorn ourselves with jewelry. You have to understand, we live in a very small town, there is no reasoning behind this rule, other than it is distracting to other students, and we are revealing too much of our bodies; which is both unfair, and untrue.
Secondly, Our school is like a literal boiler room. There is no air conditioning to speak of, and we also have kilns and ovens running in a few rooms constantly, which jacks up the heat to unbearable. One of my friends almost passed out the day before last, and another one of my friends has suffered heatstroke more than once this year.
Well, the logical solution to this problem would be to let us wear lighter clothing to make the heat bearable, but, alas, they do not listen to reason. So, were doing what I above mentioned, and as soon as we get enough signatures, we are going straight to the school board. Thank you for showing an interest in my struggle to make High School life a little more bearable.
Columbia City, IN