lacoste polo shirts on sale grader made her point
Walking a mile in someone else’s shoes, as the adage goes, helps one understand an issue from that person’s perspective. And that saying could well describe the message one Tewksbury seventh grader ably conveyed to some educators in the town’s school system.
Upset with the description of attire deemed inappropriate in the Wynn Middle School dress code, which she believed seemed tailored specifically toward female students, Elizabeth Miller sent a letter last June to Principal John Weir, describing her objections to the code’s wording, which she said reinforced stereotypes of how the female body is perceived.
We can see her point. The code, explained in a litany of clothing deemed unsuitable, concluded that the policy existed to ensure that “clothing should cover the body and not distract from the learning process.” That implied female bias wasn’t lost on Elizabeth Miller. “The common theme with all of these clothing items is the fact that they expose some curve pertaining to the female body,” Elizabeth she noted in her letter.
And to his credit, Principal Weir took her constructive criticism in the spirit in which it was intended. “(Elizabeth) brought up good points and valid points. She brought it to us in a very mature and respectful way, and I think we always have the opportunity for students to express their ideas,” Weir told The Sun of Lowell.
A new dress code has since been crafted, which benefits from Elizabeth’s input. Unfortunately for Elizabeth,
13, now an eighth grader who’ll be off to high school, these rewritten rules will be her parting school gift, since the changes won’t take effect until the next academic year.
“I thought it was both inclusive, but not targeting,” she told The Sun. “It doesn’t list items that are specific to girls’ clothing choices, normally.”
And Elizabeth won’t have to fight the same battle at Tewksbury Memorial High School, since its 2017 2018 Student Handbook will refrain from identifying what specific articles of clothing would be deemed inappropriate. That gender neutral language also will appear in John F. Ryan Elementary School’s handbook.
Any parent would be proud of what Elizabeth has accomplished, and that includes her mother, Jayne, the current town moderator who also served on the School Committee. “As a parent, it’s been a very rewarding experience because she really did this on her own,” said Miller.
In her own way, she got those educators to walk in the shoes of those middle schoolers affected by their unintended but still insensitive characterizations of their appearance,
and armed with that empathy reached a solution acceptable to everyone.