Girls at Charleston County School of the Arts in North Charleston, South Carolina, protested their school's sexist dress code enforcement by taking a page from literature and wearing scarlet letters.
The students were protesting what they saw as unequal enforcement of the school's dress code. While the code itself is pretty standard stuff, students were angered at how it was being enforced.
Junior Reese Fischer, one of the organizers of the protest, explained to the Charleston Post and Courier why they felt the policy targets girls.
Especially in the summer, you see guys walking around in muscle tank tops with half their sides hanging out and their pants hanging down, and they don't get called out for that. They don't get called out for wearing a hat, but a girl will get called out for a short skirt in a second.
Fischer went on to say that the staff adds unnecessary comments while enforcing the code. Fischer told the Courier about one instance when a staff member told her that her shorts were too short.
"It would have been one thing if the teacher had said, 'I need you to go down to the office and change clothes,'" Fischer said. "Instead she said, 'You might as well be wearing underwear. I can't believe you walked out the door like that.'"
While organizing the protest, the students borrowed from the Nathaniel Hawthorne novel The Scarlet Letter and crafted homemade letter A's to pin to their shirts. The A's were part of their slogan: "Not A Distraction."
Fischer issued a call to action last week on Instagram, and started a hashtag, #NotADistractionSOA, that students could unite around. On Sept. 24, around 100 students showed up to school wearing scarlet letters.
The school's administration has been receptive toward the protest, with assistant principal Robert Perrineau echoing its point to the Charleston Post and Courier.
“This is just a reminder of what was is already in place, that we need to be consistent and be equitable and be fair to everyone," he said.
This is one of many demonstrations students have engaged in to protest what they see as unfair dress codes at different schools across the globe.
Some students choose to wear the letters for only a few days, while others have pledged to continue to wear them until they see a change.
In talking to the Charleston Post and Courier, junior Peyton Corder summed up the whole point of the protest:
“We’re just tired of being objectified. We worked hard to be here. We just want to learn," she said. "We want to wear what we want to wear — we want to express ourselves — and we just want to learn."
BuzzFeed has reached out to the organizers of Not "A" Distraction for comment.