Dress Code Controversy Heating Up in Worcester

A dress code controversy is heating up in Worcester, Massachusetts, after a middle school student emailed school committee members about problems with the policy.

Lily Chisolm, an eighth grade student at Sullivan Middle School, said in an email to the Worcester School committee, “I was told my shorts were 'too short' and 'should not be worn into the building again.' Considering the shorts were deemed appropriate by my family that morning, I did not expect to be berated because of my attire.”

The current dress code policy states girls cannot wear shorts or skirts shorter than the tip of their fingers when their arms are held straight against their sides. 

Chisolm conducted research, including the average thigh bone and arm length based on age, to support a change in the policy.

“They don’t even sell shorts in like the popular stores that are like, past that length, so it is hard to shop with that policy at hand," Molly McNamara, a recent high school graduate, said.

Committee member Molly McCullough agrees the policy should be reassessed.

“The length that we may be talking about for certain body styles and types isn’t readily available to our students and I think we at least need to consider what’s appropriate in this day and age with what’s available,” McCullough said.

Worcester Public Schools Superintendent Maureen Binienda said, "we have to follow policies of the school committee until they’re changed.”

Binienda says it's up to committee members to change the policy but adds that "you can’t have those little shorts that, ya know, just go down right below your underwear."

But parents and former students would like to see changes to the rule.

"I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having your legs showing. Men wear shorts and their legs are showing,” mother Erin McKay said.

“Even just tweaking the policy and maybe not even getting rid of it fully but definitely tweaking it would be like a good idea,” McNamara said.

The school committee will be discussing the dress code as an agenda item in a meeting on Thursday, but NBC10 Boston was told no permanent changes will be made at that time.

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