When Tony Alarcon looked at his phone and saw that his daughter’s school was calling him, he was taken by surprise. When he found out that he was actually being called in to pick up his daughter from school, he felt there had to be a misunderstanding. He was too upset to let it go; he had to do something about this situation.
A Normal Day
When Tony Alarcon dropped off his daughter, Demetra, for school, it was like any other hot morning. It was already hitting nearly 90 degrees outside in the morning, so naturally, Demetra wore an outfit that would make her comfortable in this intense heat.
No School Uniform
Raymond J. Fisher Middle School was Demetra’s school. Her school did not have a strict uniform, so during their classes, students could wear whatever they felt most comfortable in. There was still a kind of dress code in place to make sure that students dressed appropriately every day for school.
As a real estate agent and a well-known investment banker, Tony Alarcon knows how to talk to people and how to fight for his clients. He’s not one to back down from something he believes so strongly, and he’s especially protective of his teenage daughter, Demetra.
Demetra was called out in front of the whole class by her teacher on this day at school. She wasn’t the first girl to experience such a thing, but that didn’t make it any less embarrassing. All she wanted to do was sink into the seat and put her head down. She couldn’t believe that this was happening to her.
With the outfit that she was wearing, Demetra did not see anything wrong. In the horrible heat they were experiencing, it was light, comfortable, and breathable. She didn’t think it was inappropriate for her blue romper, and her dad dropped her off at school, so he obviously didn’t think about it either.
A Huge Clash
Demetra was not trying to wear something inappropriate; during a heatwave in California, she simply wanted to wear something that would keep her from sweating and overheating. She certainly did not realize that her choice of outfit of the day would lead her father and the school to such a feud.
Such A Fuss
Everyone around the school soon enough heard of what happened to Demetra. Not only this but local news outlets also found out about what this school had done and started releasing articles and news clips. There was a question stuck in the minds of everyone: what was Demetra wearing that was so different or so much worse than what other girls were wearing at school?
In Los Gatos, California, she didn’t think anything would really come from her wearing a romper to school on a sweltering hot day but she couldn’t have been more wrong. Something she never expected was what happened to her at school because of her outfit.
This super hot day didn’t start the way Demetra thought it would. It was in her first class of the day that she was called out by her teacher and humiliated in front of the whole class. He was the one who said her outfit was not appropriate attire for school.
Principal Gets Involved
He sent her to the principal’s office for further investigation, after humiliating her in front of her classmates. The principal called Tony, Demetra’s dad, after seeing what Demetra was wearing at school, and said there was a situation and he needed to come in. He didn’t realize he would later regret that call.
A Choice To Be Made
Tony was informed by the school principal that Demetra’s outfit was not acceptable to wear in school and that he had two choices: either he could bring her some different clothes to change into or he could come right now to pick her up from school. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing!
Tony took a deep breath and said he would bring a change of clothes to school for his daughter. In her closet, he began to sift through all the clothes and decided to bring her an outfit he considered appropriate for school. He put a pair of denim shorts and a tank top inside his car and drove them to her school.
The Battle Is On
Demetra picked up her dad’s clothes and went to a private room to change into her new outfit. Her dad and principal were waiting in the office for her but the principal said the outfit was still unacceptable when she came back out. The body of Demetra was covered. What was the problem? Tony was beginning to get mad now.
Tony was surprised that he was so angry that you couldn’t see steam coming out of his ears. He told the principal that with Demetra’s outfit, he needed to explain what was wrong. It covered everything that needed to be covered, and there was nothing wrong. As her parent, if something didn’t look acceptable, he would know. He needed an answer now.
Protecting His Daughter
There had to be something else in this story that Tony didn’t know, and he needed to find out what it was. Till he had one he knew was the truth, he wasn’t going to go back down to get an answer. He suspected why his daughter had been singled out but he hoped the school would be better than that.
He Wasn’t Satisfied
The principal of the school told Tony that it was not necessarily about his daughter’s actual modesty, but the fact that her outfit was just too short. It didn’t pass what he called the ‘fingertip test,’ and she couldn’t wear it for that reason. Tony did not trust him for a minute that this was actually what was happening.
Tony was getting even more frustrated after hearing about that reason. He knew they were lying to him, and they were just making an excuse! When he dropped Demetra off for class, he saw girls wearing similar outfits that were just as short that very morning. He knew something else was there. Why was it that his daughter was singled out?
The Fingertip Test
It is a way for the school to see if an outfit is an acceptable length if you have never heard of the ‘fingertip test’; they check this by having students place their hands by their sides and stand up straight. They are not allowed to be worn in school if the student’s arms extend longer than the length of the pants. The hands of Demetra went past her trousers. Tony was livid; he would not stand for this.
The school principal admitted, after a few minutes of arguing back and forth that the real reason Demetra was singled out instead of treating everyone equally was because of some of the boys in her class. Tony thought for a second that he had misheard, so he asked him to repeat it. He could not believe what was just said by the principal!
When the principal saw Tony’s reaction, he knew he had made a terrible mistake and said something he wasn’t supposed to. Tony wasn’t going to let this go and the principal regretted saying it at all. It was because Demetra was a distraction to the boys in her class that she couldn’t wear what she wanted and what she felt comfortable in.
He absolutely could not believe what he was hearing right now, while he was sitting across from the principal, face to face from him. If boys get distracted, it is not his daughter’s problem, and she shouldn’t be punished for wearing clothes that she is comfortable in. She was singled out by both the principal and the teacher, and Tony was ready to fight back.
Tony knew he couldn’t let this situation go, particularly after seeing the look on Demetra’s face and seeing her trying to fight back tears. Many red lines were crossed by the things the principal was saying about Demetra, and Tony was not going to let this go without fighting for what was right.
Once again the principal gave Tony two options to choose from. He said either Demetra could wear sweatpants to cover her legs or she wasn’t allowed to go back to school. Tony knew this was a totally unfair ultimatum, especially after he understood that the reason behind it was because the boys were getting distracted. He decided how he was going to fight this battle.
In this situation, Demetra began to speak for the first time. She pointed out that girls at school had only been strictly enforced by the dress code. There was no hat policy for boys, but they all wore hats all the time, and they weren’t reprimanded for it. The only ones to get into trouble were the girls, which is extremely discriminatory.
Tony tried to keep his cool, but the more he thought about the situation, the harder it was to do it for him. He explained that this morning he saw a lot of girls wearing outfits such as this one in the parking lot, so he couldn’t figure out why his daughter was the only one to be called out.
At the very least, expecting girls to wear long pants on a day when it’s so hot outside wasn’t realistic for school, just because boys get distracted by looking at them. When they go outside, wearing lighter or shorter clothing keeps them comfortable in class, not overheating. If boys get distracted, don’t blame the girls for it.
Tony decided that he should ask some of Demetra’s friends what they thought about this dress code policy at their school. Each of her friends agreed that the dress code’s policies were unfair and that girls should not have to sit in class uncomfortably in the heat just because boys can not focus in class. This situation was nonsensical.
Involving The Media
Contacting media outlets was the next step Tony decided to take. For many reasons, he was angry and he wanted to know that the horrible dress code of this school made his daughter cry and made her and her friends miserable. On Today and other local news channels, Tony decided to say a word.
He had a very clear and straightforward response to give them when the media started approaching Tony to get his opinion on what the school’s dress code should be with which any parent could probably resonate. He said that what kids wear to school should not be up to the school; if parents feel comfortable sending their children to school in something, then it should be acceptable. It should not be at the discretion of the administration. We think that’s fair!
With a big proposal, Tony returned to school; he wanted to make changes to the school dress code. Some of the changes included that underwear could not be visible, no midriffs showing, and no spaghetti strap shirts. But this was just the beginning of the problem for him.
Many other parents were fully supportive of Tony at school, but not everyone felt that way. It was no longer a hidden secret to have girls objectified at school by what they chose to wear, but people were afraid that if teenagers had complete control over what they would wear in school, that chaos would arise.
They said that the dress code was intended to establish student guidelines when Tony brought his ideas to school, and that their ultimate goal was to have ‘reasonable decorum’ among school students. They seem to have dealt with this issue before; although this may not be the first case, we hope it will be the last.
Demetra isn’t the only teenage girl who has had a problem with the dress code rules of her school. Clare was going to her school prom when she, a 17-year-old girl, was singled out in a big group of people for what she was wearing and how the school thought the outfit was portrayed.
The Perfect Dress
For a long time now, Clare and her boyfriend have been looking forward to prom night; they were so excited about it that they even made sure they purchased their tickets far in advance. Clare found the perfect prom dress after a long search. As she imagined, it was silver and sparkly, and she thought that nothing could ruin their night.
The Dreaded Fingertip Test
She knew she had to buy the dress that caught her eye when she saw it and realized it was in her price range. Unfortunately, the dress had yet to pass the infamous fingertip test. She tried it, put her arms down on her sides, and she wished for the best.
Prom Dress Code
The dress code for dresses to be fingertip-length or longer was very clearly written on the prom invitation. It was long enough for Clare’s dress to pass the test, and she loved it so much. If she had any idea what sort of problems it would cause her, though, she would not have bought it.
It Was Time
Finally, for Clare, it was prom night. She was hardly able to contain her excitement, and to get ready, she put her dress on as the final touch. She had a problem this time; her dress was too short and the finger-tip test failed. She was completely dressed and ready for the prom, but she didn’t know what to do with her outfit.
She put on her heels before she left the house to see how the outfit would look all together. The dress ended right at her fingertips, but she was worried that the dress would get too high when she started dancing, and then be too short to wear.
When Clare came to the Methodist Church where the prom was taking place, she was immediately approached by someone who commented on her inappropriate dress. Although she checked her dress many times before entering the door, she was still pulled aside by someone. So she simply asked someone to repeat to her what the rule was.
Looks Can Be Deceiving
Ann Duncan, the organizer who spoke to Clare, told her she needed to follow the rules set out and comply with the fingertip rule. Clare tried to tell her that the dress actually complies with the rule but that her legs are long, so the dress looks much shorter on someone else than it would.
Nonetheless, Ann kept insisting that Clare’s dress was simply too short to wear inside but Ann had no choice but to allow her to go into the dance after Clare showed her that it was actually acceptable. However, this wasn’t the end of Clare’s interactions that night.
She noticed that many other girls were wearing dresses that were just as short, if not shorter than hers, while Clare made her way into the dance room! She couldn’t help but laugh at the scenario and just think about its ridiculousness. She wanted to celebrate her prom, but then she noticed something happening above her.
It was only possible for Clare and her friends to realize that there were many more chaperones in the room than in recent years. In addition, many of the chaperones were the fathers of some students, and they were all staring down at all the girls walking from the balcony into the room. With what was happening, the girls were all beginning to feel uncomfortable.
It’s quite understandable that these girls all felt a little uncomfortable looking at them all night long with so many parents in the room. They also knew why they were there. They were all there to try to implement the dress code; they were all in the room to track the dresses of girls to make sure they weren’t too short.
Getting Called Again
Ann was making her way back to Clare shortly after she had entered the dance. She grabbed Clare’s arm and pulled her out of the dance floor, telling her that she was dancing too provocatively for her father’s liking. They were worried that it would cause their sons to think impure thoughts by dancing.
The same thing as telling someone that they were asking for something bad to happen to them is telling the girl that her outfit and dance moves have caused the boys to have impure thoughts. Clare felt upset and uncomfortable; after all, her actions may not be the reason for these fathers and their sons to think about these things.
Enough Is Enough
Clare started fighting back against Ms. Duncan when she said she wasn’t dancing, and all Clare’s friends backed her up on that. Then she went on to show Ann, again that her dress did in fact, meet the requirements of dress code. Still, Ann didn’t have it. This was when Clare’s boyfriend came in to help.
A United Front
Clare’s boyfriend wasn’t going to put up with what Ann was telling them, so he said that if she wanted to kick Clare out of the prom, everyone in her group of friends would leave, too, and they would ask for their tickets to be refunded.
Clare was far too upset and embarrassed to think that it would make up for this awful night simply to get her ticket cost refunded to her; she did nothing wrong, after all. James, a friend of Clare’s, asked to speak to the person managing the prom. This request made Ms. Duncan angry and decided to call another chaperone for backup.
For as long as she could remember, Clare was looking forward to prom night, and all of her dreams of how amazing that night would be were shattered in just a few minutes. As if they had done something illegal, she and all of her friends were escorted out of the dance. Clare had simply been kicked out of the dance because she stood out and wore something in which she felt comfortable and confident.