A Texas dad’s essay about his 5-year-old daughter’s rainbow-striped sundress violating the school dress code has gone viral, but the school district says rules are rules — even for kindergartners.
In a blog post for the Houston Press, titled “The Apparently Immoral Shoulders of My Five-Year-Old Daughter,” writer Jef Rouner said he knew he would have to deal with “dress code shaming” eventually, but didn’t expect it to happen so soon.
“Five. You get me? She’s five. Cut her hair and put her next to a boy with no shirt on and she is fundamentally identical,” he wrote.
Rouner, a writer for the weekly newspaper, said he was shocked when he picked his daughter up from school earlier this month and she was no longer wearing the bright dress she had been so excited about that morning. Instead, she had a T-shirt on over the full-length dress and jeans underneath, too. He asked her if she had gotten cold, but she said she hadn’t — she'd been told her dress was against the rules.
“Now I have this child, the one that argues scientific points about everything from the top speed of land animals in Africa to the classification of the planets with me endlessly, wordlessly accepting that a dress with spaghetti straps, something sold in every Walmart in America right now, is somehow bad. Wrong. Naughty," he wrote. "And most importantly that the answer is to cover up.”
The dress code at the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District, where Rouner’s daughter is a student, is listed online in the student handbook and says clothing with spaghetti straps is prohibited.
The school district said Rouner hasn’t contacted them to complain and the girl changed not because her teacher forced her to, but because she already had a change of clothes handy.
“As part of district policy, parents sign the Student Handbook at the beginning of each school year. This is an acknowledgement that they have read and understand the guidelines within,” CFISD spokesperson Nicole Ray said in a statement. “Dress code is not determined by the age of the student. The teacher visited with the student about the dress code. The student had a change of clothes in her backpack. The outfit she decided on was her choice. The parent involved has made no attempt to contact the teacher or administrators to express any concerns or ask questions regarding the dress code.”
Reaction on social media is mixed, with some supporters saying kids in kindergarten should be allowed to wear whatever they want. Others criticized Rouner’s stance, saying that every student has to follow the rules, and that includes dress codes.
Rouner has not yet responded to TODAY.com’s request for comment.