Bel Air High senior fights for fair dress code


Photo courtesy of Morgan Taylor

Bel Air High school senior Gracie Brett finds her school’s dress code to promote rape culture and the sexualization of females. Brett scheduled a school-wide protest on Nov. 21 to fight against the rule, although the protest was eventually cancelled.

Bel Air High School senior Gracie Brett found the dress code at BAHS to condone rape culture and the sexualization of its female students. So she fought against the system.

Brett fought against dress code regulations including the rule against “shirts that expose or reveal skin or undergarments such as all tank tops, tube tops, halter tops, mesh tops, bare midriff tops and spaghetti straps.” Brett points out that all of these prohibited articles of clothing are popular in the female population. This is just one rule among many that only restrict the females of BAHS.

It takes courage to stand up for yourself against the administration. Personally, I simply don’t have the guts to go to the Board of Education, the Superintendent, and the Executive Director for Middle and High School Performance, let alone to start a school-wide protest against a school regulation. But this is exactly what Brett had the courage to do.

After speaking with the administrative members in charge of the allegedly sexist rules, Brett took matters into her own hands. She scheduled a protest on Nov. 21 for students to break the dress code, displaying the message, “I am a minor. If you are sexualizing me, you are the problem.”

The protest was shut down, according to Brett, because of “understandable reasons regarding discipline,” but she did not give up her fight.

Brett had previously taken her opinion to the press  –  BAHS’s newspaper, The Bellarion  – and published an opinion article on her view of the dress code. After the article had been approved and published by BAHS’s newspaper staff and moderator, the story changed.

Brett’s photo and headline of the story remained the same, but the article had different words and a different angle. Her original article, published in the Opinion section of her school’s newspaper, was taken down for not being “factual.”

Brett reached out to The Dagger, Harford County’s online newspaper, writing a Letter to the Editor about her situation and attaching her original article from The Bellarion. This Letter to the Editor and the original article can be read here.

“This is a topic I’ve felt strongly about for a long time, I just wasn’t nearly brave enough to make a move like she did. Now that it’s gaining so much attention, students, especially girls, are starting to really take this seriously and learn more about the topic,” BAHS junior class president, senator for student government, and news editor for The Bellarion Meghan Thompson said.

Brett saw a problem with the way her school functions and took matters into her own hands to promote a change. It just takes one person to make a difference.

Students are to be seen, not heard. Is that the message that we want to spread? When there is an issue that students face within the school, should we not step up and speak out against it?

The Patriot recently published an article about the lack of student power available within the JC community, stating that students “have the right to matter in their own community.” It’s time for students to step up and out of their comfort zones to advocate for change.

In a Patriot survey conducted on Oct. 12, 94 percent of students said that they found cafeteria prices too high. Besides Opinion Editor Justin Hawkin’s article condemning the price of mozzarella sticks from Dec. 13, 2013, no action, that I have seen, has been taken by students to make a change. Out of the 94 percent of students that see the problem, no one has taken action.

All it takes is one student’s bravery to speak out in order to start a movement towards a change.

Brett is a role model for students to follow. She is proof that students can make a change, despite a lack of student power within a school system.

Thank you, Gracie Brett, for providing inspiration for a change.

Lauren Glase is the Media Chief for The Patriot and