School tells 5-year-old that this dress is inappropriate for school

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Jef Rouner / Houston Press

Jef Rouner / Houston Press

HOUSTON — A 5-year-old girl in Houston was told to cover up because her outfit violated her public school’s dress code.

In a blog post for the Houston Press, the girl’s father Jef Rouner wrote that he picked up his daughter from school one day to find her wearing a t-shirt over her spaghetti-strapped rainbow dress and jeans underneath it.

“I’m not surprised to see the dress code shaming come into my house. I have after all been sadly waiting for it since the ultrasound tech said, ‘It’s a girl.’ I didn’t think, though that it would make an appearance when she was five years old,” he said.

Rouner checked out the school’s dress code rules and was frustrated to discover its lack of male-specific guidelines.

“I mean prohibitions against exposing the chest or torso could hypothetically apply to boys except that they don’t. Not really. They don’t sell boys clothes that do that,” he said.

He was especially angered that his daughter was forced to wear jeans under her full-length dress:

“You know what really grills my cheese about it? It’s not even the shirt they made her put on over her top, it’s the pants they made her wear underneath. It’s a full-length dress that she has to hold up to keep from getting wet in uncut grass. She even had a small set of shorts underneath because it was gym day. But because the top part of her dress apparently exposed the immoral sinfulness of her bare shoulders she also had to pull on jeans even though her legs remained completely covered as part of her punishment.”

According to the Huffington Post, Rouner plans to discuss the school’s decision to ban his daughter’s dress at an upcoming parent conference.

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  • jamiegreco

    Any person who feels apparel is inappropriate should check themselves for impure thoughts before taking action. So often, these girls are perfectly fine and it is the insulted person who should consider themselves shameful. When you call out a 5-year-old for her clothing choices-which are presumable made entirely by her parents-you negate any credibility you have when you have an issue actually presents itself.

    • Kelly

      Before you jump to that conclusion, please remember, most likely these rules were written because one of the older children pushed the envelope. Administrators can’t very well put “After or during puberty” before the dress code rules, they have to enforce for ALL of the students, or be called out for it by parents. Please, visit or work in a school in the early fall or late spring. You will definitely understand why these rules are written, and why the need to be enforced, regardless of the age of the students. Many parents either don’t care, or don’t know what their children wear to school. They buy the clothes that “sexualize” their older daughters, because, “This is what everyone else is wearing”. Really, what 10 year old needs a push up bra? We have forgotten to teach our children that they don’t need to show skin to be attractive.
      As for “thinking of a 5 yr old that way”– It isn’t that, the point is, if they enforce the rules for a 6th grader, they have to enforce the same rules for a kindergartener.

    • Libby Muransky

      You obviously don’t understand what you read Margaret….there was NO RULES for what boys can wear, only girls. WHY are girls that little made to feel like whores? Or inappropriate at all? It’s a sick mind that comes up with this sh*t. So it’s ok for a boy to wear a tank top to that school but not a girl? Really?

      • Bethi

        The father said their was a “lack” of male-specific rules, not “NO RULES”. Lack means wanting or deficient. We would need to see the rules before overreacting…whoops, too late.

      • JackR

        I love the cognitive dissonance that the father and some of these commenters have. The father said that there were not male-specific rules, as in no rules that applied only to males. Males are still required to follow all of the rules that exist.
        And for all of the people, like the father, that are upset that girls are singled out for these kinds of rules, he explains it himself in the article: they don’t make clothes for boys that show off the midriff or the torso or are spaghetti straps. If you don’t want girls to be effectively singled out in dress codes, then ensure you only buy them clothes that cover them up as much as you cover up your sons. If you send your daughter to school in 20-30% less clothing than your son, you can’t be surprised when your daughter is the only one told to cover up.

      • Theresa H.

        Jackr, are men allowed to be out in public without a shirt? Are men allowed to sit on their lawns and show off their beer belly to all who walk by? There may not be clothes that show off a boys midriff, but if they did, I’m sure boys would be allowed to wear it. As boys aren’t sexualized the way women and girls are. And the point the dad is making I feel is why was she forced to cover something already covered? Her dress went to the floor and she had on shorts underneath, yet she had to put on pants as well? When I was in school the dress code read a lot about what girls can’t wear, and boys need to keep their hair and appearance clean. One kid in our high school wore short short shorts to prove a point. He never got sent home to change, or told to cover up. But his shorts were above the tips of his fingers. Yet any girl at our school who am adult thought her shorts were too small was forced to put her arms at her sides and if the hem was above her fingertips she had to go change. How is that right?

      • Kelly

        Libby….they did provide a link to the student handbook. Here is what the dress code says:

        Students are not to wear clothing that is tight, loose, sagging, baggy, revealing, spaghetti-strap, backless, low cut or short.
        Pants– must be worn at the waist or upper hip and must not reveal underclothing
        Shorts and Skirts – must be fitted at the waist or upper hip, must not reveal underclothing, and must be mid-thigh in length or longer
        Tops, Shirts and Blouses – must not reveal underclothing, midsection, torso, back, chest, breasts or cleavage
        Dresses – must not reveal underclothing, midsection, torso, back, chest, breasts, or cleavage and must be mid-thigh in length or longer
        Shoes – must not detract from or interfere with the learning environment or present a safety or health hazard Tennis shoes or closed-toe shoes are preferred. House shoes/house slippers of any kind are not allowed.
        Head Coverings – no type of head covering is to be worn with the exception of (1) a cap or hat that is part of a uniform worn at a school activity or (2) for religious or medical purposes
        Underclothing – must wear appropriate underclothing;
        Pajamas/loungewear – any and all pajamas/loungewear are prohibited

        This applies to ALL students, not just girls. And, I would take the pants and tops applies to both boys and girls, and of course, if a boy CHOOSES to wear a dress or skirt, he is bound by the same rules as for the girls. The dress code is clear. Dad SIGNED the dress code at the beginning of the year. He is an idiot.

  • Sandra

    it is ridiculous that they do this to little girls. I would fight to the end, it’s not right! If they had something to say about anything they should call the parents!!! I’m so angry about it!!!! 😡

  • Tony

    This girls dress was standard issue several years and no one would have thought twice about it, you have these sexually insecure warped people today who interpret a simple young girls shoulder strap dress as sexual threating – who really got the problems here ? It’s apparent that today’s schools are so insecure about sexuality regardless of age or how foolish it makes them look to try to control it, it’s no wonder that many of these young kids today are emotionally distrupted.

  • Tanya

    How about just follow the rules. Most schools send home a “Code of Conduct” at the beginning of the school year. Did you not bother reading it, did you forget about the rules, or just decided to ignore it? This has nothing to do with “sexualizing” a 5 yr old. There are rules & dress codes all through life. Teach your child to respect the rules & those who made them. Help her to form good, appropriate habits now so she’s not a troublemaker later.

  • Emilee Cox-DeBoer

    This is probably going to be an unpopular comment, but oh well…
    I would not allow any of my children to go to school with bare shoulders. That means no spaghetti straps for girls and no tank tops for boys. Also, my girls know that their shorts or skirts should fall below their finger tips, and if my boys felt like wear short shorts or skirts, the same rules would apply. I believe there is such a thing as showing too much skin. We also have the belly-rule in my house. If you lift up your arms and your tummy shows, you change it. I fell that little girls dress is showing too much skin. I also think 5 year old shouldn’t wear two pieces. Their wardrobe can mature as their bodies and tastes mature. But I am not going to set the precedent that they can show their bodies around town so by the time they ARE sexually active, they’d be wearing skirts that ride above their pussies and my boys would be running around town shirtless. Nope. Sorry. There are rules and boundaries. As long as everyone is held to the same standards, fair is fair.

  • liesbethkesseler

    I’m European, I live in the Netherlands, and i’m shocked to read that a school in the US did a thing like this! If it were to happen here, the school would be blamed and shared all over the media! What this school did is nothing short of what they do to little girls in countries like Saoudi Arabia. Spaghetti-straps are completely normal for small children, teenage girls and adult women. I’m a mother of three girls and if their school would interfere with their clothes and re-dress my daughter the way this school did, i’d be furious! The people who did this and who feel this type of dress is inappropriate, should seriously consider emigration to the Arabian peninsula. There’s no place for you in the Western world!

  • Belinda

    In Australia this would be deemed as not Sun safe. We have the highest skin cancer rates in the world due to the close proximity to the ozone layer hole (thanks for that BTW). Our children are required to cover their shoulder at preschool and school not for modesty but for safety and we do it gladly.

  • Kelly

    This Dad needs to stop making an arse out of himself. If the dress code says no spaghetti straps…..AND HE SIGNED THAT AT THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR….then he has nobody to fault but himself. And….it was gym day. Why would he send his daughter to school on gym day in a FULL LENGTH dress….and spaghetti straps. What kind of idiot is this guy? And the dress code addresses loose and baggy clothes too. That would probably be for the boys. Dude needs to get over it.

    • Adrianne Soldano

      Thank you Kelly, that’s the complete point. It doesn’t matter if you agree or disagree with the school rules. It doesn’t matter if you think the little girl’s dress was harmless, (which I do btw) or if you think her father has her on the express line to sluthood. The ONLY issue here, is FOLLOWING THE RULES. I am so beyond tired of all this idiocy with making sure that the “darling kiddies don’t have their fragile little egos stepped on” I could just scream. She’s a cute little girl, who’s daddy bought her a cute sun dress, and made the mistake of allowing her to wear it against school policy. Okay, live and learn. Dad screwed up, whoops, next time he’ll know better, this doesn’t need to be some ridiculous ongoing debate, he signed the forms that said “Yes, I have read and understand the rules”. Move the hell on!!