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Teen is 'humiliated' after teacher calls her out for not wearing a bra to school

Lizzy Martinez said she was told to put a second shirt on and then put Band-Aids over her nipples.
by Rheana Murray / / Source: TODAY
Lizzy Martinez, 17, shows off the shirt she was wearing when a school official pulled her out of class.
Lizzy Martinez, 17, shows off the shirt she was wearing when a school official pulled her out of class.Tiffany Tompkins / Bradenton Herald via AP

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The mother of a Florida teenager said her daughter is "humiliated" after being called out of class for not wearing a bra underneath her T-shirt.

Lizzy Martinez, 17, a junior at Braden River High School in Bradenton, Florida, wrote on Twitter that a teacher complained that she was "a distraction to boys in my class," and that the school's dean later suggested she cover her nipples with Band-Aids from the nurse's office.

"I was beyond flabbergasted," her mother Kari Knop told TODAY Style. "I really had to have someone talk me off the ledge because I was so mad."

Martinez's tweets about what happened have since gone viral, sparking a conversation about the fine line between a dress code and sexualizing girls because of their clothes.

It happened last Monday, when Martinez said she was pulled out of class for not wearing a bra. She explained to the school's dean that she wasn't wearing one because she had a sunburn, but agreed to put on a second shirt, beneath her long-sleeve T-shirt.

I don't care if it's a female dean — it's not an appropriate request.

After Martinez changed, she returned to the dean's office, where she said she was told to stand up and move around.

"I don't care if it's a female dean — it's not an appropriate request," Knop said.

That's when the dean asked Martinez to go to the nurse's office for Band-Aids, which she could use to cover up her nipples, Knop said.

Lizzy Martinez, Braden River High School, dress code controversy
Lizzy Martinez in the shirt she says got her pulled out of class last Monday.Courtesy of Kari Knop

Martinez was visibly upset but did so, and returned to class. But soon after she asked her mom to come pick her up, Knop said.

Knop was horrified when she heard her daughter's story.

"When she told me they asked her to put Band-Aids on ... I slammed on the breaks — I mean, I was in the school parking lot driving five miles an hour, but I slammed on the breaks and said, 'Oh my gosh, you have got to be kidding me,'" Knop said.

The school's dress code states that students are "expected to dress appropriately for school and for the business of learning" and that if "personal attire or grooming distracts the attention of other students or teachers ... you will be required to make the necessary alterations to such attire or grooming before entering the classroom," but does not address bras specifically.

Lizzy Martinez, Braden River High School, dress code controversy
The high school senior said she felt humiliated when teachers called her out for not wearing a bra.Courtesy of Kari Knop

The school district said in a statement sent to TODAY Style that no disciplinary action was taken against Martinez, but that the issue could have been handled better.

"It is undisputed that this matter should have been handled differently at the school level and corrective measures have been taken to prevent a reoccurrence in the way these matters will be addressed in the future," said Mitchell Teitelbaum, general counsel for Manatee County schools. "There was a violation of the school dress code and it was an appropriate matter to address by the school. It is clear the intent of school officials was to assist the student in addressing the situation."

This isn't something that's only happened to Lizzie. It happens to girls on a daily basis at schools and it's time for change.

Knop had a phone call with school officials last week but is still angry at how her daughter was treated. She said she has reached out to the school district but hasn't heard back. Meanwhile, her daughter is still embarrassed and has missed a few days of school, but plans to go back to class this week.

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They both believe their message is bigger than Braden River High School — they want schools across the country to stop sexualizing girls.

"This isn't something that's only happened to Lizzie," Knop said. "It happens to girls on a daily basis at schools and it's time for change."

On Twitter, students from Braden River High School, including Martinez, are organizing what they're calling a "bracott" on April 16, suggesting that students protest by forgoing bras or wearing bandages over their nipples, on top of their shirts.

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