BRADENTON, Fla. (WFLA) – The Manatee County School District says a situation should have been handled differently when a female student who did not wear a bra to school was told by a school administrator to put on a second shirt because her nipples were distracting her classmates.
17-year-old Lizzy Martinez decided not to wear a bra under her gray long-sleeve shirt and school officials felt she became a target of other students’ stares.
“There is nothing sexy about a nipple, like everyone has them. You don’t look at boy’s nipples and like, drool over them, so you shouldn’t be so distracted and attacked because I wasn’t wearing a bra,” said Martinez.
The high school junior was wearing a grey, long sleeved t-shirt.
“It is pretty baggy on me. It is a lot looser of a shirt than I would usually wear,” said Martinez.
Though the shirt was loose, Martinez says a teacher and students thought the shirt without a bra was distracting.
“They had me put a t-shirt on underneath my long sleeve to constrict my breast movements,” said Martinez.
Martinez says she did what the dean said.
“She asked me to stand up and move around and I looked at her and said, ‘what do you mean?'”
Martinez says the next request was even worse.
“I was pulled into the clinic, was given four Band-Aids and was told to x out my nipples,” said Martinez.
Martinez left school hysterically crying and now both she and her mom want answers.
“Why are we not educating these boys, or whoever found it to be a distraction, to look at people’s face and not objectify their body and sexualize it,” said Kari Knop, Martinez’s mom.
The Manatee County School District released the following responses about the incident:
This matter was brought to the attention of the Superintendent’s Office for review.
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.
There was a violation of the School Dress Code and that it was an appropriate matter to address by the School.
It is clear that the intent of school officials was to assist the student in addressing the situation. No disciplinary action was taken in relation to the student.”
The school district also included a copy of the district’s dress code:
(The section below is from page 28 of the 2017-2018 School District of Manatee County Code of Student Conduct)
SCHOOL DRESS CODE
You are expected to dress appropriately for school and for the business of learning with proper attention given to personal cleanliness, grooming, and neatness. If your personal attire or grooming distracts the attention of other students or teachers from their school work, disrupts educational activities and processes of the school, or is a potential safety hazard, you will be required to make the necessary alterations to such attire or grooming before entering the classroom or you may be assigned to In-School Suspension (ISS). If you fail to meet the minimum acceptable standards of cleanliness, neatness, proper fit, safety and decency as determined by the principal or designee and as specified in the District Code of Student Conduct, you will be subject to appropriate disciplinary measures. You are additionally prohibited from wearing clothes that expose underwear or body parts in an indecent or vulgar manner or attire that disrupts the orderly learning environment.”
“I am just speechless still,” said Martinez.
Martinez says she wants an apology from the school and wants to see change. She and her mom are also considering getting an attorney.