This student wrote an epic response to being called out by a teacher for her within-regulation skirt

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Jenny Noyes

Carey Burgess in the outfit she wore to school the day a teacher tried to send her home.

Carey Burgess in the outfit she wore to school the day a teacher tried to send her home. Photo: Facebook

Carey Burgess is one of Beaufort High School's top students. She's the president of the student body, a junior marshal and a scholarship recipient. 

She's also worn an above-the-knee skirt to school before without any problems. But one day last week, she was pulled up by a teacher who'd taken a good look at the length of that same skirt, deduced that it was in fact more than the regulation 3 inches above the knee, and therefore that she deserved to be sent home.

The student was understandably frustrated and angry at this teacher's decision to make use of the dress code in a seemingly arbitrary manner to disrupt her learning. According to Burgess, she thought she was "dressing up for my Teacher Cadet lesson" by donning the smart tan skirt, collared shirt and striped three-quarter length sweater. Instead, unnecessary attention was drawn to her body and its apparent inappropriateness.

So she channelled that anger into an essay posted to Facebook and Instagram, calling out that teacher and the school for failing students by being more intent on policing them than teaching them. 

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It's far from the first time a student has spoken up about sexist school dress codes that unfairly target and police the bodies of young female students. But the epic essay with which she responded deserves to be shared. 

Not only did Burgess point out the sexism of the dress code, she pointed out the hypocrisy of lazy teachers who role model sexism policing the behaviour of students, in a searing burn on the South Carolina high school's staff. 

"Maybe our society isn't yet advanced enough to handle 3 inches of my thigh", she wrote. "This is a patriarchal society and I am a woman. I have to be kept in my place, or I may do something that is so rarely seen in Beaufort High School- learn.

"You saved me, Beaufort High. As Student Body President, junior marshal, and a recipient of the Palmetto Fellows, I was heading down the path of hard drugs (good thing you're testing next year!), strip clubs, and sugar daddies. I don't where I would be without your misogynistic views.

"How could I go on without a certain math teacher making sexist jokes all class? How could I survive without my science professor letting me know I am an inferior woman? Yes, I am a woman. I am woman with thighs, a butt, and a brain. I am bigger than Beaufort High School. All of us are. Maybe instead of worrying about my skirt, Beaufort High should take notice of its incompetent employees, and sexist leaders."

Burn, burn burn.

 

Today, I wore this outfit to Beaufort High School. About 20 minutes into the day, my friend and I were excused from class to venture to the vending machine because our teacher was planning to do nothing all class period, as usual. On our way back, I learned something very important about myself: I am a whore. As I was walking down the hallway, I heard a voice behind me. "Your skirt is too short. You need to go to in-school suspension and then go home." Thank you, Mrs. Woods. Thank you for teaching me that looking good for school is NOT appropriate. Thank you for letting me know that while I may think that I am dressing up for my Teacher Cadet lesson, I am in fact dressing to go to a night club or the whore house. Thank you for bringing me to tears in front of my friends and classmates because you do not have the decency to pull me aside and explain the problem. Then again, I did not have the decency to put on real clothes today. So maybe I am in the wrong. Maybe our society isn't yet advanced enough to handle 3 inches of my thigh. This is a patriarchal society and I am a woman. I have to be kept in my place, or I may do something that is so rarely seen in Beaufort High School- learn. You saved me, Beaufort High. As Student Body President, junior marshal, and a recipient of the Palmetto Fellows, I was heading down the path of hard drugs (good thing you're testing next year!), strip clubs, and sugar daddies. I don't know where I would be without your misogynistic views. How could I go on without a certain teacher making sexist jokes all class? How could I survive without my science professor letting me know I am an inferior woman? Yes, I am a woman. I am woman with thighs, a butt, and a brain. I am bigger than Beaufort High School. All of us are. Maybe instead of worrying about my skirt, Beaufort High should take notice of its incompetent employees, and sexist leaders.

A photo posted by Carey Burgess (@mynameiscarey) on

Burgess has since apologised and clarified that her comments should not be read as tarring all of the teachers at the school as lazy and sexist. She also told Buzzfeed she was pleased with the response of the principal - who agreed that her outfit was within dress code and cancelled her suspension - and the support she'd received from other teachers.

But she stands by her call on the sexism she's been subjected to, saying a teacher in one class actually referred to "inferior females" amid other examples.

"Other remarks like, 'it's because you're a girl,' or 'we need a boy to be partners with this girl so she's not lost,' are fairly frequent in the classroom," she added. "Usually I laugh it off or roll my eyes, but one person can only bear so much for so long.

"I am proud to have given a platform for so many girls to speak against the system."