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Stuyvesant High School in New York CityStudents at Stuyvesant High School in New York City flooded the streets of lower Manhattan in revealing clothing to protest the conservative dress code at their school, reports the Huffington Post.

With flyers that read “Redress the Dress Code,” nearly 100 students voiced strong opposition to the ban on midriff exposure, visible underwear, shoulder and lower backs and hemlines that do not fall below fingertip length. According to the Post, images and words deemed inappropriate are also not acceptable.

Stuyvesant High is one of the top performing schools in the city and the students are not shy about expressing their opinion on the matter:

“We work our asses off here and school is about learning, ” said freshman Lucy Greider. “Clothing is not important.” According to the New York Post, she’s been sent to the adminstration over 10 times for dress code violations.

“They’re, like, sexualizing our outfits by telling us what to wear,” said another student. “And like, I don’t know, I guess it’s just more important to learn in school rather than be like persecuted for your dress.”

Persecuted or protected?

“The bottom line is, some things are a distraction,” Principal Stanley Teitel the Stuyvesant Spectator. “And we don’t need to distract students from what is supposed to be going on here, which is learning.”

Along with high intelligence — that is encouraged by parents — often comes a sense of individuality that can be disrespectful in a strict school environment. While it’s commendable that these students are fighting for autonomy, it’s regrettable that a group of minors think it’s perfectly fine to take to the streets dressed as “sluts.”

Even more interesting is the fact that the school is predominately Asian and White — with less than 4 percent collectively being Black and Hispanic.

The protest, a miniature version of the controversial “SlutWalk,”is something that would never happen at a predominately Black school and a letter from deeply concerned Black women explain the racial implications that are buried in the word “slut.”:

We are deeply concerned. As Black women and girls we find no space in SlutWalk, no space for participation and to unequivocally denounce rape and sexual assault as we have experienced it.  We are perplexed by the use of the term “slut” and by any implication that this word, much like the word “Ho” or the “N” word should be re-appropriated. The way in which we are perceived and what happens to us before, during and after sexual assault crosses the boundaries of our mode of dress.  Much of this is tied to our particular history.  In the United States, where slavery constructed Black female sexualities, Jim Crow kidnappings, rape and lynchings, gender misrepresentations, and more recently, where the Black female immigrant struggle combine, “slut” has different associations for Black women.  We do not recognize ourselves nor do we see our lived experiences reflected within SlutWalk and especially not in its brand and its label.

Hopefully, one day these students realize that exposing skin does not necessarily equal empowerment.

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