Dutch schools called out for unequally enforcing dress code policy for girls
As temperatures rise in the summer months, several schools have reminded girls of their dress code. T-shirts, hot pants and other summer clothes have been labeled as daring by several schools. Students and organizations have now spoken out against the comments which they say are not only sexist but also dangerous.
By narrowing down specifically on girls, schools are sending out a worrisome message, “You are making girls responsible for the sexual behavior of boys and men”, expert at the Rutgers knowledge center Willy van Berlo said to the Trouw.
Natalya is a 16-year-old student at an international school in The Hauge who created a spoken word poem to raise awareness about sexist dress code policies and how they sexualize girls' bodies. In the video, Natalya has “I’m not a distraction" written across her chest. The NL Times spoke with the mother of Natalya about the video and the response Natalya received from her school after the video went public.
The mother of the student claimed that three teachers approached her daughter after the video was released interrogating her as to why she made the clip. “She was just trying to raise awareness about an issue where girls feel sexualized in what should be a safe environment”, Natalya’s mother said.
Multiple girls at The Hague also wore crop tops and shorts with phrases such as “too short” written on their skin in revolt against the school’s dress code policy which they claim disproportionally targets girls. Several boys at the school joined the protest by writing “I am not distracted” on their arms.
When boys do not follow the dress code policy their offenses are often ignored, Natalya’s mother said. “Girls will be told to immediately go change”, she said, whereas dress code violations by boys will oftentimes be dismissed.
Schools in Zwolle, Amersfoort and Roermond have sent emails to parents reminding them to make their children wear “appropriate clothing”. “This means no bare bellies and only pants or skirts with a length where no inappropriate comments can be made”, Koen Janssen director of the Protest Christian secondary school in Amersfoort said. "Your clothing can embarrass others and that causes discomfort. In some cases it could also affect forms of security", a reformed-liberated school in Zwolle wrote.
“With this, they actually say that a girl is to blame if something happens because she should not have dressed like that. No one has the right to harm a woman or girl, no matter how you look”, Ver Berlo emphasized.