Girl Scouts fight Alabama school’s dress code: ‘All bodies are different’

By The Associated Press

Girl Scouts who attend Auburn City Schools have created a petition asking the school board to update the current dress code for the school system, saying students should feel comfortable and shouldn’t be worried about “getting publicly shamed.”

Marcie Gaylor, the volunteer experience coordinator for Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama, said about four girls from Troop 7018 and Troop 7012 got together in May to discuss the dress code and came up with the idea to modify it. The girls came up with the wording by themselves with the guidance of a few adults, Gaylor said.

“We always encourage girls to become involved, and especially to do that through appropriate channels,” she said. “Part of our Girl Scout law says to respect yourself and others and to respect authority. They’re also asked to be courageous and strong and make the world a better place.”

The online petition received hundreds of signatures just days after it went live on Aug. 19.

Daniel Chesser, public relations coordinator for Auburn City Schools, said the district was made aware of the petition and planned meetings to discuss it.

“Having students put a petition together is something that I think is encouraged by the school system for students to have a voice,” Chesser said.

In the petition, the girls state that the dress code “prevents girls’ success” as it makes girls self-conscious, stressed and anxious.

The Girl Scouts stated that the current dress code wastes instructional time and discriminates against individuals with low income. It also describes the difficulty girls have while shopping and trying to find clothes that fit the rules.

“Because all bodies are different, lots of girls cannot find clothing that meets the dress code on the shelves of any store in Auburn,” the petition states. “The same shirt or pair of shorts will fit dress code on one girl but not another.”

Gaylor said one of the rules the girls would like to change involves the required length for shorts, skirts and dresses. The system currently requires all hemlines to be no shorter than 4 inches above the knee. The Girl Scouts proposed to change it to a standardized inseam length, so it’s easier to shop for.

Several parents and even former students have voiced their approval for the petition on Facebook.

“Way to Go Girls!!! I 100% support this,” one parent wrote. “My 5′8″ tall daughter always had to wear jeans in 100 degree heat.”

“Can non parents sign? I’m a former student of ACS and have ALWAYS had issues with the overall restrictive and sexist dress code,” another person wrote. “Glad to see people pushing for a more realistic and modern approach and especially from the student body itself!”

As the parent of a first-grader and a fourth-grader, Gaylor said she is all for updating the dress code.

Some parents on Facebook commented that the dress code is also a struggle for boys, something Gaylor said the girls who wrote the petition are taking into consideration.

“Their thinking here is that this is something that affects a lot of girls,” Gaylor said. “In fact, they have learned since then that boys are also affected by the dress code and that boys also struggle with finding appropriate clothes to wear for the school system.”

The Girl Scouts looked at dress codes from Opelika and Tuscaloosa and developed their own proposed dress code to present to the system.