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Parents want to raise their children to be empowered, confident and independent. But sometimes society forces views and limiting beliefs onto children. For generations, women were discouraged to participate in sports even if they wanted to. As society modernizes, women are fighting back against this prejudice. And this often comes from the parents of the next generation’s little boys and girls. That’s exactly what happened when Jennifer Smith received a permission slip from her young son’s school for a pool party. She was outraged when she read what the school was forcing the girls to do. And she wasn’t afraid to speak up about it although she received harsh criticism for doing so. Check out what the permission slip said that made Jennifer Smith outraged enough to talk to the media.
Although the note did not directly affect her son, Jennifer spoke up about it because she wants to teach her son to respect women. The school’s permission slip did not do that.
Rhoades Elementary in Indianapolis, Indiana was holding a pool party for the sixth grade class. It was designed for students who were well behaved throughout the year and had good attendance.
“I have a little boy, I’m teaching him to think correctly, and this is contrary to what I’m teaching him,” she said.
The permission slip started off innocent enough. But when it got to the rules, the dress code made Jennifer Smith red in the face. It said:
“All girls must wear a non-white t-shirt over their swimsuit.”
While the permission slip also forbade “Speedos,” Jennifer struck back at the female centric rule.
“Being a feminist and seeing things through that filter, I was just kind of enraged by that,” Smith told The Huffington Post. “They’re saying little girls need to be ashamed of their bodies and cover themselves up.”
Smith shared a photo of the permission slip on social media along with her note that read: “I will not let my child participate in any activity that promotes girls body shaming or tells girls they are to police their sexuality.”
Jennifer immediately picked up the phone and called the school. They told her that in previous years the girls had worn inappropriate swimsuits. They wanted to protect the little girl’s virtue while also appealing to parents with an economic solution with the t-shirt.
“We know that for many of our families, buying an extra [one-piece] swimsuit for their children would be a luxury they cannot afford,” a district spokesperson told HuffPost. “To address the issue of appropriate dress for the swim party, we believed asking the girls to wear T-shirts over their swimsuits was the solution that addressed the issue most sensitively.”
Smith didn’t buy it.
“Setting one standard for half of the student body only promotes the idea that girls bodies are naturally shameful,” she wrote.
Smith escalated the issue to the superintendent. She won and t-shirts became optional.
“If we can change little things to make it better, and examine the reasons why we do things, that would be great,” Smith said. “It’s these small decisions that can alter how young people view themselves and help or hurt them in the long run.”
The pool party was held as planned and Smith’s son said no girls wore a T-shirt. Jennifer Smith won.
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