Female students nationwide protest against sexist dress codes

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Lauren Glassberg has the story. (WABC)

Dress codes at schools are nothing new, but one school in North Dakota is using a not-so-subtle way to suggest girls avoid wearing tight pants. Now, it's sparking a movement, led by some middle schoolers in New Jersey, to push schools to stop shaming girls.

Remember the scene in "Pretty Woman" when Julia Roberts, who plays a prostitute, is humiliated at a fancy boutique for the way she's dressed?

She gets revenge and a warmer welcome when she returns in fancy clothes.

Those very scenes were played at Devil's Lake High School in North Dakota during a female dress code assembly.

Administrators say they hope to discourage students from wearing tight yoga pants and leggings, but students and parents say the approach was over the top.

"I get how that lady was judged by what she was wearing, but we don't wear that kind of stuff to school," one Devil's Lake student said.

"The message it is sending to the girls is that they dress like prostitutes," licensed psychotherapist Dr. Stacy Kaiser said. "And they are sexualizing them instead of treating them with self-respect."

The Devil's Lake principle later admitted showing the clip was a poor choice, but across the country, students are protesting what they call public shaming - schools sending girls home for wearing jeggings or yoga pants, claiming their clothes are too distracting for the boys.

"This message is telling boys that if a girl is dressed in a provocative way, they have a green light to behave any way that want," Dr. Kaiser said. "And that can be very dangerous."

In New Jersey, one middle school's fairly-common-but-strict shorts-and-skirts-at-fingertip-length policy sparked a group of students to launch the hashtag #IAmMoreThanADistraction to push for fairness in schools' dress codes.

"The dress code focuses on girls more than it does on boys," one of the girls from the New Jersey middle school said. "That's when we realized this needed to stop."

#IAmMoreThanADistraction highlights double standards in dress codes at schools throughout the country.
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