Lydia Cleveland

High-school girls who show too much skin in Chesterfield, Virginia, are ordered to wear sweatpants with “dress code” printed down one leg. A 17-year-old student went to the media for help taking on the “sexist” policy.

Lydia Cleveland of James River High School went to WWBT-NBC12 and WTVR-CBS6 on Monday to spotlight a set of rules she says unfairly target females and promote rape culture.

“This is telling our bright young women that it is their fault when they are sexualized in the eyes of other people. Absolutely the young ladies are being targeted. … I’ve seen boys in athletic shorts and girls aren’t allowed to wear them,” Cleveland told WTVR.

The student provided a PowerPoint presentation given to students as a guideline for choosing attire each morning. The presentation has nine pictures of unacceptable outfits for females but only two for males (for example, baggy pants sagging below the waist).

“If you’re going to have a dress code with rules for both genders, enforce it among both genders,” Cleveland told WWBT. She said girls on the field hockey team were told they violated school policy for wearing their own uniform on Spirit Day.

Cleveland, a senior, also took issue with sweatpants girls must wear when they violate the school’s dress code.

“The fact that shame is being used as a punishment is completely wrong to me,” said Cleveland, WWBT reported.

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The teenager said she understands a dress code should exist to keep people looking professional, but felt as if the punishment sweatpants were the equivalent of a “scarlet letter.”

A spokesman for the school would only tell WWBT, “The dress expectations, while at school during the instructional day, outlined by James River HS, have not changed and all clothing, including uniforms, must meet those expectations.”

Cleveland told WWBT school officials never responded to a letter she wrote one week ago outlining her concerns.


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