After A Girl Wore Ripped Jeans To School, She Got Suspended For Ignoring Their Effect On Boys

When Melissa McKinlay’s daughter was removed from class, it was because she had been wearing ripped jeans. But it’s alleged she was then given an unexpected lecture on how the way she dresses might affect male classmates. Now this irate mom is looking for payback.

On September 13, 2018, McKinlay’s daughter got up in the morning and dressed for school. Presumably it was exactly as unremarkable as it sounds. Little did she know at the time she selected her outfit, however, that she would pay a price later that day for her choice.

During history class sometime that day, one of the Forest Hill High School’s administrators entered the classroom. He approached McKinlay’s daughter and pulled her out of class. She was then handed a school suspension for the rest of the day. Her offense? Her jeans had a rip at the knee.

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So, were the administrator’s actions a knee-jerk response to what was a perfectly acceptable outfit? Ripped jeans are, after all, on-trend right now. Well, McKinlay certainly wasn’t impressed. In fact the disgruntled mom took to Facebook that evening to post a rant about it.

In an open letter addressed to the school district of Florida’s Palm Beach County, McKinlay wrote, “My daughter wore a pair of jeans today to school. They had a hole in the knee. In the middle of a quiz in her History class, a male administrator came into [the] classroom.” But it was what happened next that the mom found most baffling.

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McKinlay claimed that the administrator then “told [my daughter that] she needed to consider the guys in her class and their hormones when choosing her wardrobe. [He then] yanked her out of class and threw her into in-school suspension for the remainder of the day. So, she missed an entire day of core classes and couldn’t finish her quiz.”

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The irate mom posted a picture of the apparently offensive jeans. She branded the actions of the school’s official – who happened to be male – as “sexism.” McKinlay believed that the administrator should also receive a suspension for “victim-blaming” and “girl-shaming” her daughter.

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It’s possible that McKinlay’s opinion may have carried more weight than most moms, however. Why? Well, as it happens, mom-to-three-kids isn’t the only position of authority she holds in Palm Beach County. In fact, it’s possible she has more power than officials at the school.

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Melissa McKinlay is actually Palm Beach County Mayor. She was re-elected to the post in July 2018 when no one challenged her for the position. The mom-of-three is also a member of the District Six council, so it’s likely she’s a fairly powerful woman.

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In fact, McKinlay’s mayoral goals include holding drug companies to account in the wake of the U.S.A.’s opioid addiction epidemic. So she’s clearly not a woman afraid of taking on big corporations. But then, when it came to her daughter’s school administrator, she felt that he, too, should answer for his actions.

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McKinlay understood that her daughter’s ripped jeans were in violation of Forest Hill’s rules. The school’s principal, Mary Stratos, stated that any torn clothing, intentional or otherwise, is against the institute’s dress code. The location of the tear on the garment is also inconsequential.

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Torn clothes, then, are just that according to the school rule-book. It’s a regulation that applies to male students just as much as female, irrespective of where the tear has occurred. It is not a school administrator’s job to judge tears. Indeed, as Stratos stated, “We don’t need to be the tatter police.”

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So, McKinlay’s daughter’s choice of clothing that day was clearly outside of school regulations. What exactly, then, was the mayor’s problem? Rules are rules, and if her daughter broke them then she should receive an appropriate punishment, just as anyone else would for the same violation.

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McKinlay’s problem was, in fact, with the way the violation had been addressed. The mom had no problem with her daughter receiving punishment for the misdemeanor. What she took exception to was that the teenager was somehow also responsible for male students’ hormones.

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As McKinlay wrote in her Facebook post,“I’m sorry, but, EXCUSE ME? Perhaps [my daughter] should have worn a different pair of jeans. But why should she have to worry about dressing a certain way to curtail a boy’s potential behavior? So, like, it’s her fault if the boy touches her because of what she was wearing?”

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McKinlay continued, “A boy’s potential inability to control his hormones warrants my daughter’s inability to attend her classes today and miss valuable curriculum? Did seeing [a knee] affect your ability to concentrate? I’d like to think her intelligence and quick wit, beautiful smile and wicked sense of humor might. [But] her knee?”

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Though Stratos hadn’t been aware of the incident at the time McKinlay posted her furious rant on Facebook, she pledged to look into exactly what the administrator said to her daughter. Furthermore, the Palm Beach County Mayor also stressed that she didn’t feel that the punishment fit the crime.

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The school rule book states that clothes “should be intact” containing no “holes, rips or frays”. Stratos said that discipline for violating the dress code varies. An initial offense results in detention at lunchtime, with punishments becoming more severe with further infractions.

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It’s unclear whether this was a first offense by McKinlay’s daughter or if she’s a regular rule-breaker. Nevertheless, the mayor was adamant that the school administrator’s approach to the situation was wrong. And many of the comments on her Facebook post supported her feelings.

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“The message that somehow a woman’s wardrobe is responsible for a man’s behavior is wrong. In any form,” McKinlay wrote of the incident. I am hopeful this will be used as an opportunity to provide further sensitivity training to staff and students.” While her daughter would face the consequences of breaking the rules, the mayor added, “such a violation never warrants the experience she had yesterday.”

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