ORANGE BEACH — Emotions ran high Thursday, Sept. 8, when Orange Beach High School students and families voiced concerns to the city district school board over what they are calling an …
ORANGE BEACH — Emotions ran high Thursday, Sept. 8, when Orange Beach High School students and families voiced concerns to the city district school board over what they are calling an unbalanced dress code that body-shames girls.
Details: A recent school assembly was held to discuss a number of topics with students, including fees, permits, drug testing policy, dress code policy and appropriate behaviors. The controversy began when the male students were dismissed while the junior and senior females were asked to remain behind.
Students say once the boys had left the room, female teachers continued to address the dress code with the students. One teacher reportedly suggested the male students “couldn’t control their hormones” and that the female students needed to “take more precautions to prevent distractions and inappropriate behavior.”
Imbalanced dress code: Corrie Southern, a parent in the Orange Beach system, shared photos with the school board, some which she obtained from the newly formed city school system’s Facebook page, she said.
“We have pictures of boys with their underwear showing that y’all have posted on Facebook,” she said to the board. “We have pictures with school leaders that are standing next to children that are dressed inappropriately per your dress code. We do have leaders that are dressed nicely, but yet they’re in sleeveless clothes, and yet it’s not in the policy that they can wear it.
Superintendent’s response: A few days after the assembly, Wilkes released an apology.
Parental concerns: Southern, however, said she is disappointed in the lack of communication and the lack of action taken following the incident and that she is upset because of the treatment her daughters and their classmates received.
“I’m upset because it’s not really a matter we can speak about,” she said. “I’ve tried to have a meeting with the principal. There’s no definition of what’s going to happen. The three teachers who had spoken to all these kids, nothing’s going to be done from my understanding, from what I’ve been told, at least nothing publicly. Which I don’t need anything publicly, but something needs to be done for body-shaming these girls. And not to mention what they’ve said about the boys. I’ve got boys, too. Raging hormones is not a reason to dress a certain way. They’ve got to learn, and it comes from parenting, and it comes from school.”
OBBE’s response: At the meeting’s conclusion, school board member Randy McKinney addressed those in attendance.
“I want to remind everybody, and let’s think about this, that we’re really all on the same team,” he said. “We may have had some differences in some of the things that this board put together early on, but if you had any idea of how much work this board has done to get all of these things together in the amount of time that we’ve had to get them together, there is absolutely no way it was going to be perfect. We know that there’s some hiccups. We know that there are some things that we have to fix, and this board, I can assure you, is concerned mainly about the academic excellence in this community.
“It’s not us against them or you against us or anything like that,” he continued. “We’re a team. We had some differences, so let’s fix those differences, let’s correct where we need to and we’ll move on, because this goal and this vision of this board and Randy Wilkes is nothing but providing the best educational experience for your child.”
This is the first school year Orange Beach schools are operating in their own city school system after pulling away from the county district. Gulf Shores schools previously did the same.
McKinney received applause from the audience following his statement.