Student forced to cover nipples with Band-Aids organizes #bracott
On April 2, Lizzy Martinez, 17, was pulled from her fifth-period class at Braden River High School, in Bradenton, Florida and sent to the dean’s office—because her nipples were allegedly “distracting” other students. Martinez was wearing a long-sleeved Calvin Klein shirt without a bra underneath, according to a story first reported by the Florida-based Bradenton Herald.
“[The dean] told me that I needed to put a shirt on under my long-sleeve shirt to try to tighten my breasts—to constrict them,” Martinez told the Bradenton Herald last Thursday. “And then she asked me to move around.”
The second shirt was deemed insufficient, however, so Martinez was sent to the nurse’s office and given four bandages—two for each breast—so her nipples would be less visible.
The school district’s general counsel, Mitchell Teitelbaum, said Martinez had violated the school's dress code, but acknowledged that the school could have handled things differently.
“This matter was brought to the attention of the superintendent’s office for review,” he said. “It is undisputed that this matter should have been handled differently at the school level and corrective measures have been taken to prevent a reoccurrence in the way these matters will be addressed in the future.”
Martinez’s mother, Kari Knop, said she received a call from the school about a “sensitive matter” that day. She later said, “We should not treat a girl like this because of where her fat cells decided to distribute genetically.”
In the meantime, Martinez is currently organizing on Twitter a protest she’s calling a “bracott.” Set for April 16, the boycott instructs girls to not wear bras and for boys to wear Band-Aids over their nipples.
Recent years have seen high school students across the country increasingly challenge the dress codes they’re forced to abide, maintaining that rules unfairly target girls, according to a 2015 story published in The Atlantic.
“School is telling us female bodies are distracting, and it’s wrong,” California-based Burroughs High School student Virginia Begakis told the Los Angeles Times in September, after she was pulled out of an honors class because she wore a spaghetti strap shirt on a 110-degree day.
People of color, as well as queer and transgender students, are also disproportionately affected by dress code regulations, say students and researchers. Last May, two young black women who attended a charter school in Malden, Massachusetts, were reportedly punished for wearing hair extensions in violation of the dress code. Jamila Blake, who studies the “adultification” of black girls in schools, spoke to NPR about the incident.
“Blake sees strict dress codes as a way of targeting certain students without using racial language,” reporter Kayla Lattimore told NPR. “By using certain restrictions on hairstyles and dress, school officials are enforcing the policing of black youth.”
A 2015 study conducted by the New York-based group GLSEN, which aims to create safe and nurturing schools for LGBTQ students, found that nearly 30 percent of transgender respondents had been prevented from wearing clothing to school that corresponded with their gender identity. The Human Rights campaign advises that school dress codes “avoid gender-specific policies altogether and instead allow all students the same clothing choices regardless of gender.”
Back in Florida, Martinez has been busy tweeting her frustration.
“[S]chool has student put bandaids [sic] over her nipples because it is a ‘distraction’ then blocks them for calling them out on sexualizing her,” she wrote on April 3.
Shortly thereafter, the school’s Twitter account blocked her.
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