A Moncton, N.B., teenager is taking a stand against "unjust standards" after she received a detention for breaking the dress code at Harrison Trimble High School, and then a one-day suspension for complaining to the vice-principal.
Lauren Wiggins, 17, says she was told the full-length halter dress she wore to school on Monday was considered "inappropriate" and a "sexual distraction" to fellow students.
But the Grade 12 student contends the dress code is a symptom of "rape culture" — a climate that blames women for the sexist behaviours of others.
"I'm tired of the unjust standards that we as women are held up to. I'm tired of the discrimination against our bodies, and I'm absolutely fed up with comments that make us feel like we can't be comfortable without being provocative. It's time to change the world's mind set. Now."
Wiggins, who turns 18 on Friday, also posted on Facebook the letter she wrote to vice-principal Shane Sturgeon, which earned her the one-day suspension.
"If you are truly so concerned that a boy in this school will get distracted by my upper back and shoulders, then he needs to be sent home and practice self-control," she wrote.
"Yes, I understand there are restrictions to how much and how little of your body that shows, but that applies when people show up in their bikinis or bra and panties," the letter states.
"The fact that authority figures, especially males, can tell young women they must cover up their shoulders and their back because it is 'inappropriate' and 'a distraction' is very uncomforting.
"Schools are the social building blocks in an adolescent's life meant to teach them how to communicate and develop relationships with others and also learning about themselves and who they want to be."
Parents support suspended student
"I saw your outfit this morning and there is nothing 'provocative' about it," he wrote.
"She wore it to a job interview and was hired, and told how nice she looked, so, I mean, what's wrong with that?"
Anglophone East School District officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
The dress policy posted on the school's website, however, states that "shirts exposing shoulders and/or backs and/or midriffs (spaghetti straps, tube tops, halter tops)" are prohibited.
Lauren Wiggins says she feel she's been unfairly singled out though because the dress policy also forbids pants that are frayed at the cuff line, and wallet chains and bandanas, all of which she says are commonplace at the school.
A similar case at a Fredericton high school last year resulted in students and administration writing new sexual assault policies.
Wiggins says she hopes her school will see a similar change.