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The Middle-School Dress-Code Blues

candrews via Flickr Creative Commons

Junior high school can be an awkward, unsettling experience for anyone. Especially for teachers; imagine having survived it once, then witnesses cavorting teens finding their way over and over again. Jessica Lahey is an English, Latin, and Writing teacher at Crossroads Academy in Lyme, New Hampshire. She also writes about education and parenting for the New York Times and other publications, and on her blog, Coming of Age in the Middle. Her article, “A Dress-Code Enforcer’s Struggle for the Soul of the Middle-School Girl” was recently published in The Atlantic and she joins us to discuss the worry over dress codes and the chaotic middle years.

Jessica mentioned that she had been criticized about the article. Mainly by Amanda Marcotte on, who concluded that: "what girls need to learn is that they count no matter what they wear or who they have sex with, and the best way to send that message is to start acting like you believe it's true."

Hugo Schwyzer, writing for Jezebel, accused Lahey of promoting the myth of the uncontrollable male libido, a belief, he writes, “rooted more in folklore than in biological truth”

We’d like to know what you think. Do dress codes create healthy boundaries for teens whose bodies are far more developed than their brains?  Is telling a young woman to cover up as surely a form of sexual objectification as taking it off? Does concern about modesty and its absence send a message to middle schoolers that their sexuality is dangerous and uncontrollable? Please chime in on our Facebook page.

Virginia Prescott is the Gracie Award-winning host of Word of Mouth, Civics 101, The 10-Minute Writers Workshop podcasts, and the Writers on A New England Stage series on New Hampshire Public Radio. Prior to joining NHPR, she was editor, producer, and director for NPR programs On Point and Here & Now, and directed interactive media for New York Public Radio.
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