How many young women can a school legally punish for dress code violations?

Jessica Valenti:

In the last few weeks, almost 200 students – almost all of them female – at Tottenville High School in Staten Island, New York have been given detention over dress code violations. Many of the young women showed back up to school in crop tops and tank tops, deliberately breaking the code in protest.

But what makes an outfit inappropriate? A peek of shoulder? An inch of midriff? Or maybe it’s just being young and female that school administrators find offensive. Because while these school dress codes are supposed to address both female and male students, it’s predominantly girls who are targeted as “violators” – and that could be a violation of federal law.

In a statement, Tottenville High School Superintendent Aimee Horowitz said in schools that don’t have uniform requirements “students have the right to determine their own dress except where such dress creates a distraction, is dangerous or interferes with the learning and teaching process.”

The Tottenville students’ outrage comes on the heels of a high school girl in Florida being made to wear a “shame suit” for breaking her school’s dress code and a middle schoolers in Illinois protesting their schools ban on leggings.