For many rising seniors, the summer leading into the school year is one of preparing to finally graduate: drafting college applications, studying for standardized tests, and taking senior portraits. For Grace Goble at Maine South High School in Park Ridge, Ill., she’s spent hers a little unconventionally: petitioning her school administration.
After taking her senior yearbook portrait in June, the photo studio informed her that she would have to retake her shots. She was wearing an off-the-shoulder sweater, which violated school dress code, the studio said, and couldn’t be used in the yearbook.
At Maine South, dress code requires students to wear opaque clothing covering them from shoulder to mid-thigh, according to Goble. But she said she’s seen how the rule affects more female students than male. She couldn’t see why a yellow sweater needed to be regulated.
Instead of solely asking her administration to allow her to use the photo anyway, Goble created a change.org petition to urge her school leaders to revise the dress code itself. Since Tuesday, the petition has collected more than 3,000 signatures.
“Shaming women for wearing the things that make them feel comfortable and happy in their bodies is horribly sexist, and leads many girls to grow up believing that if another individual cannot control their actions around women, that the woman was at fault,” Goble wrote in the petition. “It is astounding to me that this issue comes up again and again, and not much seems to be done about it.”
Within hours, Goble’s principal contacted her to tell her that a retake wouldn’t be necessary and that he would create a group of six to seven students to help revise the dress code when school starts back up in the fall.
When asked what advice she would give to students across high school campuses in America facing similar dress code challenges, Goble said it’s important to stand up for yourself and ask for support from others.
“It’s super important to keep a level head and be respectful to everyone who’s involved even if someone doesn’t agree with you because I don’t think my school would have been as understanding and willing to hear what I had to say [otherwise],” Goble told The Active Voice.