Kristine L Ming

High school students demand equality in dress codes

Despite soaring temperatures last week, high school girls in many institutions were sent home for wearing shorts, sparking nation-wide protests that have gone viral and have also commanded the attention of Knesset Members.

An online Facebook protest group, with the tagline “teaching schools a lesson in equality”, is advertising a demonstration to take place on Tuesday June 16th outside the Knesset.

The group tells stories of high school students from around the country being sent home by their schools for wearing shorts or wearing shorts that were above the school-mandated length.

Also related in the group are the reasons given to the girls for sending them home, including statements from principals and teachers such as “there are male teachers in the schools who don’t want to see your beautiful legs.”

Eliya Wiseman is one of the students who has joined the protest, after hearing about the injustice in other schools. Wiseman, a 15-year-old ninth grader in Rosh Ha’ayin, decided to stage a protest at her own school last Friday and wore shorts for the day.

Her principal, she says, told her that “there is a difference between girls and boys and what is respectable for boys is not respectable for girls.” Wiseman added that her teacher simply wouldn’t discuss the issue with her.

In Wiseman’s school the girls are allowed to wear shorts that come to the middle of the thigh, and in theory, she says, the rule is the same for both boys and girls “but it is only the girls whose shorts are measured.”

Wiseman states that she is in favor of coming to school dressed respectably, but the rules should be equal for boys and girls. “It’s belittling of the boys,” she adds, “It says they can’t control themselves.”

The struggle has also made its way into the Knesset, where Labor MK Michal Biran brought an urgent motion to the floor Sunday morning.

“We must ask ourselves what message we are conveying to young girls? That they should be ashamed of their bodies?” reads the motion brought by Biran. “I expect the Education Minister to intervene and cancel this discriminatory ban. Such a ban only perpetuates the stigma that a woman is an object and should be ashamed of her body under the false pretext of “modesty” and protecting her dignity. This rhetoric is worthy of Iran and not the 2015 Israeli education system.”

In response to the protests, the Education Ministry stated that the ministry guides the students and staff to come to school in “appropriate attire” and further related that each school has specific regulations set in cooperation with parents and students and in accordance with the school community.

Student have already taken to social media to convey their objections about the alleged double standard being applied to female high school students, where one meme directed at Education Minister Naftali Bennett reads : “Here (Israel) is not Iran.” staff contributed to this report

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