12-Year-Old Succeeds In Getting Sexist Middle School Dress Code Overturned

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teens in leggingsTypically when we talk about school dress codes here at Mommyish, we bring you news of schools with impossibly high standards of modesty or idiot teachers sending kids home without jackets in winter because the coats weren’t in school colors. But instead of detention, middle school student Bella Ray deserves an A+. This week she challenged her school’s ban against wearing leggings, and won.

From comes this empowering story where comfort and common sense conquer all. Twelve-year-old Ray thought the dress code at West Shore Middle School in Milford, CT was unfair. While the dress code did not specifically state that students could not wear leggings, it did prohibit students wearing spandex and girls wearing leggings were often told they were in violation of the dress code.

Ray thought the dress code was unfair for several reasons. She felt that it was unfairly geared towards females and that when girls did wear leggings to school,  it was commonly the girls that were, in her words, “thick” who were told that they were violating the dress code and thinner girls were not reprimanded. The school principal recently told students that they were dressing “inappropriately” by wearing leggings. Though Ray doesn’t often wear leggings to school, she felt compelled to act because, as she said, “It’s not like we are doing anything wrong. It’s comfortable.” As a semi-professional yoga pants wearer myself, I agree that there’s nothing inappropriate about wearing leggings.

Even though she faced possible suspension, Ray felt so strongly about the leggings ban that she launched an Instagram campaign inviting other girls to join her in wearing leggings to school.

Ray’s mother, Amy Lappos, fully supported her daughter’s decision to take action. When Ray’s mother learned that the school principal was telling students not to participate in the protest, she contacted the school and arranged a meeting with the administration.

Following the meeting, West Shore Middle school has changed their dress code to allow students to wear leggings as long as they are paired with a shirt of a reasonable length. According to, Ray’s mother said the school principal was very kind and understanding and Ray will not face any disciplinary actions for organizing the protest.

While saying shirts must be a “reasonable length” isn’t the clearest dress code guideline I’ve seen, I’ll give the school the benefit of the doubt because this is a new policy. I’m sure they can more clearly define how long shirts should be in the future. I’m the owner of some leggings that seem opaque until you bend over or sit down, so I think this is a reasonable compromise which acknowledges current trends and prevents inadvertent exposure of students’ bodies.

The only thing that could make this story better for me right now would be if the principal and students released a flash mob video of them all dancing to Taylor Swift’s Style with everyone wearing leggings. Fingers crossed. But until then I can still enjoy the warm fuzzy feelings that come from seeing a young girl have the courage to take a stand for what she believes in. And thanks to herself (and a great role model of a mom) she can stand up in comfort.

(image: pressmaster/