A 15-year-old student in Quebec, Canada launched a protest of her high school dress code last week by refusing to change out of jean shorts deemed too short by school authorities. Rather than comply with the rule, Lindsey Stocker printed 20 posters criticizing the policy and hung them all over her high school. The signs read: “Don’t humiliate her because she’s wearing shorts. It’s hot outside. Instead of shaming girls for their bodies, teach boys that girls are not sexual objects.” Though posters were quickly taken down, their message has gone viral, eliciting an outpouring of support from students.
The incident began after two school vice principles walked into Stocker’s classroom and asked the 11th grade students to press their arms to their sides. If the students’ shorts did not reach their fingertips, they were asked to change clothing.
“In front of all my peers and my teacher they said I had to change,” Stocker said. “And when I said no they said I was making a bad choice. They kept shaking their heads. In front of everybody.” “They continued to tell me would be suspended if I didn’t start following the rules. When I told them I didn’t understand why I had to change they told me that it doesn’t matter – I don’t have to understand the rules, I just have to comply by them.’
Stocker argued that the rule was unfair and especially designed to “target girls,” since school officials “don’t really care what guys wear.”
“People are being judged for the way they dress, they have to change because boys look at them,” the teenager later told the Canadian Broadcast Corporation. “The boys should be the ones who have to learn to treat women better and look at them in a different light.” She has since been suspended for not following the rules.
Stocker’s experience is the latest installment in a long line of examples of schools telling girls to cover up so they don’t distract their male peers. Critics worry that these policies teach girls that it’s their responsibility to prevent themselves from being ogled, rather than teaching boys to have the self-control to refrain from objectifying their classmates.