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Teens Protested Their High School's Sexist Prom Dress Code And Won

"As students, we’ve been trying to progress, and I think the school system should catch up as well."

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On Monday, these prom dress code flyers appeared on the walls of Stanton College Prep, a public high school in Jacksonville, Florida.

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Three of the flyers showed prom dresses with low backs, plunging necklines, and a leg slit. They said, "Going to Stanton Prom? NO YOU'RE NOT."

A fourth poster shows a sleeveless gown, accompanied with text: "Going to Stanton Prom? YES YOU ARE. GOOD GIRL."

Lily Willingham, an 18-year-old senior at the high school, found out about the posters in a group text with some friends — and she was livid.

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"I saw it, and I was like, 'This is a joke. Are you kidding me?'" she told BuzzFeed News. "I was immediately so angry."

Willingham said dress code rules anger her due to their role in the over-sexualization of young women — and because those rules are rarely enforced for male students.

"I feel like that’s just demeaning — not just to women, but to men as well. They’re not animals, they can handle themselves!" she said.

"It’s a very outdated rule that needs to be updated," Willingham added. "As students, we’ve been trying to progress, and I think the school system should catch up as well."

With tons of posters plastered around the school, knowledge of them — and outrage — quickly spread among the student body.

Also, the prom is on Saturday, and most students have already bought their dresses.

"When everyone else found out, they were all as equally angry as I was," she said.

By the end of the day, they'd all been ripped down. It is still not known who put them up.

After Willingham tweeted a photo of the posters, anger quickly spread beyond the high school.

Good thing they told us a week before prom it's not like everyone has their dress already.......

People were pretty grossed out by the poster designating which students were "good girls."

"good girl" this is absolutely disgusting and insulting to all the intelligent young ladies who attend this school https://t.co/kgLBXI0MhI

This is ridiculous. High school administrators really hate when girls look good & feel confident about their bodies… https://t.co/emcY4T18UV

"good girl" as if we're some dogs. what a mess. https://t.co/9kHDTOhdDY

And people really weren't having that sexist BS.

"Good girl"??? You can try and say that again after I shove my glittery af prom heels up your butt you sexist ass https://t.co/WQDJgyGbNa

"GOOD GIRL"? BITCH I CAN WEAR AN OPEN BACK DRESS WHILE SHOWING A LIL CLEAVAGE & STILL BE A GOOD GIRL GETTING ALL MY… https://t.co/wEiTeJdiLw

But the students of Stanton College Prep didn't just get mad, they took action.

ANTHONY PAUL SGA PREZ PSA: TO HELL W/ TOURIST DAY- WEAR A SHIRT AND DUCT TAPE THE FEMALE GENDER SIGN ON IT AND WEAR IT TO SCHOOL - RT THIS

TWITTER HASHTAG FOR TOMORROW - #SCPGOODGIRL // TOMORROW IS WOMENS DAY - PURPLE AND WHITE COLORS , DUCT TAPE FEMALE GENDER SIGN ON SHIRT

Since it was Spirit Week, the student body was supposed to dress up on Tuesday for "Tourist Day."

On Monday evening, student government president Anthony Paul announced on Twitter that Tuesday's theme was changed to Women's Day.

Paul told BuzzFeed News he made the decision pretty suddenly and "was just sort of inspired to do that because of the reaction of the students from the signs."

"The entire school mobilized to support the cause," he said.

And mobilize they did. Tons of students decorated T-shirts for the theme, many bearing the hashtag #SCPGoodGirl.

#scpgoodgirl administration you messed up😐 thanks to @Coop_Connelly for the quote on my shirt🙌🏾 you said it best

I HAVEN'T DONE ANY HOMEWORK I DID THIS INSTEAD

They wore purple and white and duct-taped female symbols on their shirts.

When Willingham got to school on Tuesday, she was blown away. Most of the student body had joined the protest.

UPDATE for everyone I did not get called to admin and the principal apologized. Also our student body really showed… https://t.co/rtlAyCAljv

"It was honestly the most unreal feeling ever," she said. "It was so inspiring and so overwhelming to see my student body immediately standing up for something."

"Usually, as students, we don’t think we have much of a voice. We don’t speak out much because we are kids," she added. "But everyone knew this was wrong, and they united. It was incredible."

It's still not known who put the posters up, but the school district said they were "not appropriate or an approved policy."

The display of prom dress photos at Stanton College Prep is not appropriate or an approved policy. Images were removed on Mon. #SCPgoodgirl

Even so, the principal made a school-wide announcement Tuesday morning apologizing that the flyers had gone up.

"She said, ‘We want everyone to enjoy prom. No one’s going to get turned away. I want you to show up in whatever you want to wear, whatever you’ve purchased,'" said Willingham.

Both Willingham and Paul said they were proud of their school for the strong response.

"I can’t believe we were able to accomplish something like this," Willingham said. "Our voices were heard."

Julia Reinstein is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Julia Reinstein at julia.reinstein@buzzfeed.com.

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