Daddy Saves The Day?
Clothing guidelines vary from school to school, but many have a strict zero-tolerance policy on dresses that are deemed too short. Demetra Alarcon went to one of those schools, but then her dad stepped in…
13-year-old Demetra Alarcon is just one of many teenage girls who is penalized for wearing what their school might deem inappropriate. Teachers may be obligated to measure the length of their students’ dress to make sure that its at least at knee length. Then there are those situations when a student might be taken aside and scrutinized by a member of staff; a truly awkward situation for everyone involved. This is pretty much what happened recently to Demetra.
Summer Is Upon Us
The reality is that when the Summer approaches, people resort to wearing summer clothes. This also applies to schoolkids, who just want to be comfortable during a long day of school. However, more often than not, girls can get into trouble at school when wearing thin-strapped tops and short shorts. If it is deemed inappropriate, you could end up in the principal’s office. It’s worth mentioning that female students are, in general, scrutinized more for what they wear.
The main character of this particular story is 13-year-old Demetra Alarcon, a normal school girl from California who likes the typical things that girls her age tend to like. However, she was about to be swept up in a situation that she didn’t see coming. On August 28, 2017, Demetra arrived at her school in a romper. Why? Because it was a hot summer day. Despite having her reasons, her teachers accused her of deliberately wearing the romper to distract the boys in her class.
It seems like Demetra has had great people to look up to during her formative years; most notably, her dad Tony Alarcon. According to his Linkedin account, Tony is passionate about real estate and has 20 years worth of experience as an independent investment banker. “Passionate about applying the art and science of financial analysis and risk mitigation,” he wrote on his Linkedin profile summary. Tony is the founder of Legacy Wealth Ventures, which is located in the San Francisco Bay Area.
A Little Help From My Sister
It’s not just Demetra’s parents who have been supportive of her through this tough time. If anyone can relate to her the most, then it has to be her older sister, Gwyneth Alarcon. Middle school can be lonely at the best of times. So Demetra must have been grateful to have such a close-knit family to watch over her through the good times and the bad. However, it seems like we are missing one very important person…
Like Mother, Like Daughter
Not only does Demetra have a loving father who wants to make sure that she feels happy and safe. Her mother also cares about her deeply and as you can see in this Instagram photo, the pair love to celebrate the good times together. This particular photo was taken on Demetra’s mom’s birthday and she was excited to share the photo with her friends and loved ones. “Happy birthday momma! Love you more,” she wrote in the caption.
The Simple Things
At the end of the day, Demetra is just a young girl who is still finding her place in the world. She loves nothing more than the simple pleasures in life; things like going to the beach and enjoying the soothing sounds of Pacific tides. So to have such a loud commotion at school surrounding her choice of dress must have been completely unexpected for her. Despite this speedbump in her school life, Demetra is actually on the verge of something very special…
Thankfully for Demetra, she was able to put this troubling chapter in her life aside, at least for one special day. Just recently, she experienced one of the most special days of her life – graduation from middle school. This was one special day when she was able to dress exactly how she wanted to and celebrate with all of her school friends. She was so excited to pose with her diploma. “Middle school? We don’t know her,” she cheekily wrote on her Instagram.
Dad To The Rescue
Out of nowhere, Demetra found herself in a troubling situation. Ultimately, she wouldn’t have gone to school dressed that way if her parents had said no to it. The reality though was that they gave her the green light to wear the romper. So when Demetra’s dad found out about what happened, he was extremely frustrated. After hearing the news, he decided to put together a response that he believed would address the school’s dress code in a profound way.
The Day It Happened
It was a particularly hot day; the day that Demetra showed up at Raymond J. Fisher Middle School in Los Gatos, California. It read 90 ⁰F on the thermostat, meaning that kids were seemingly within their rights to dress a little lighter for school. However, Demetra’s blue romper caught the attention of not just her contemporaries, but many of the teachers. As a result, one of Demetra’s teachers called her out on it and told her that it was too short for school.
Not The First Time
As frustrating as this moment was for Demetra, this actually wasn’t the first time that she had been criticized by members of the school’s staff about what she was wearing. Her clothes have been deemed inappropriate before. “When I got dress coded one time… they said my bra strap was showing,” she said in an interview with the San Jose Mercury News. “Lord forbid I might be wearing a bra.” So what made this day different from all others?
Still Not Good Enough?
During that hot summer day when Demetra had been dress-coded for that blue romper, her teacher called her dad, Tony Alarcon, to come and bring her a change of clothes. It was either that or send Demetra home for the rest of the day. So her dad got to the school and gave Demetra a tank top with spaghetti straps and a pair of denim shorts. However, upon seeing her new attire, the teachers were still unsatisfied.
Yes It’s Fine, No It’s Not
Amazingly, when Demetra’s dad was brought along to inspect her daughter’s new outfit, he couldn’t come to an agreement with the school officials. “I asked Demetra to bend over and touch her toes, right in front of the administrator,” Tony said in an interview with Today. “And I said, ‘Nothing is hanging out. There’s nothing inappropriate. I don’t understand this dress code rule.'” These were obviously two adults who had completely different opinions on Demetra’s dress.
Distracting For The Boys?
Despite Tony’s insistence that his daughter’s choice of dress was fine, the school official was having none of it and began to explain why the school deemed the romper as “inappropriate.” “[The school official] said the clothes were distracting to boys,” Tony said. Despite still disagreeing with the official, Tony had no choice but to provide Demetra with a pair of leggings. It may have been covering her legs, but it was uncomfortable for her in the hot summer heat.
Despite everything that happened on that fateful day, Demetra felt disheartened by the way she was treated. In an interview with the San Jose Mercury News, she said that she felt like the school official’s had “picked on” her. However, the most alarming observation she made was in regards to the unfair treatment that girls get in the school. Demetra feels that there is a double standard at the school and that boys don’t get scrutinized the same way that girls do.
Inequality At School
Demetra elaborated on the unfair treatment that the girls at her school receive for dress-code violations. What speaks volumes is how little the boys get called out for wearing inappropriate clothes at school, such as hats. “They don’t write you up for hats,” she said. “I know one guy who wore a hat to class every day last year, and he was never written up.” She isn’t the only person who has spoken up about the inequality at her school. So did her dad, Tony.
Dad Speaks Up
It wasn’t just because he’s her dad. Tony genuinely feels that his daughter Demetra, is being unfairly treated and that if the dress code applies to her, then it should apply to everyone. There are plenty of kids at her school who are also “breaking the rules.” “Demetra isn’t alone,” he said. “Just sit in Fisher’s parking lot and you’ll see that.” That’s not all though. Upon inspecting the school’s dress code, it was clear to Tony that it primarily targeted female students.
Unsuitable For Summer
One of the glaring flaws in Raymond J. Fisher Middle School’s dress code is its incompatibility with the seasons. The rules, as of now, have only been suitable when for mild conditions and students don’t feel a need to dress lighter. However, when it is the middle of the summer, and temperatures are so high, there have to be some leniencies. This came to a head on August 28, when Demetra was called out for simply trying to be comfortable in the summer heat.
Not Just Demetra
Demetra’s dad remained unconvinced about the school’s dress code after speaking with a number of her friends who felt the same way. “I’ve heard from multiple girls that they just want to be comfortable, but they feel like they’re being pushed into wearing leggings in 100-degree heat,” he said. “I was told by an administrator that the girls’ clothes are a distraction to the boys. That shouldn’t be a concern.” However, what Tony said next really drove his point home.
Embarrassed & Upset
In an interview with Today, Tony Alarcon hit home exactly why Demetra’s “problem” shouldn’t be a problem. When it boils down to it, Demetra’s just a normal middle school girl who wants to live a normal life. “[Demetra’s] not a sex symbol. She just wants to be comfortable and attend class and we’re not affording her that opportunity.” According to her dad, she leaves school many days “both embarrassed and upset” after “you get pulled out of class in front of everyone.”
Parents Should Have Final Say
To conclude his interview, Tony shared his thoughts on the current dress code at Demetra’s school and schools in general. He believes that it should be the students’ parents who have the ultimate say on what their kids should and should not wear. However, due to the reality that it is ultimately the school who has the final say on the dress code, Tony realized that he’d need to get some support from the local community.
Sharing His Thoughts
So Demetra’s dad’s first step was to reach out to the wider online community. Shortly after the incident, Tony went online and logged on to NextDoor.com. It didn’t take long before he shared his thoughts on that website about the school’s dress code. Some of the items of dress that are not allowed that he pointed out include “tank tops with spaghetti straps,” “underwear and midriffs not be visible,” and “short shorts (inseam less than four inches).”
Prepared For Battle
It was clear that Tony was prepared to take the battle straight to the school and would not stop until his daughter had found some justice. “I mean, today it’s 90 degrees outside and she’s wearing leggings because she doesn’t want to be dress-coded for wearing shorts,” Tony said in an interview with CBS Local. “And it’s not OK. It needs to change.” The man had spoken, but what exactly did others think about his aggressive words towards the school?
Naturally, Tony received a torrent of mixed reviews from a variety of people. There is no denying that school dress-code is now a heavily debated topic, but there were a lot of people who supported his thoughts on the subject. One commenter said the following. “Your post has reminded me of some fairly serious body image issues of my own that have stemmed from our cultural shaming and sexualizing of girls’ bodies.” However, there were plenty of individuals who didn’t agree with him…
One of the biggest critics of Tony’s words was the principal of Raymond J. Fisher Middle School, Lisa Fraser. In an interview with the San Jose Mercury News, she stated that the dress code of the school is a tradition that has stood the test of time. “There has always been a dress code,” she said. “These are standards for reasonable decorum.” However, Demetra’s dad respected Principal Fraser for speaking up and staying true to the rules of the school.
Agree To Disagree
Not only did Tony respect the Principal for addressing the issue, he also agreed with her that there needed to be boundaries when it comes to what one wears at school. However, for him, the rules were a bit extreme. “The dress code should require clothes to cover body parts – nothing should be hanging out – I agree 100 percent,” he said. “But wearing spaghetti straps and tank tops does not make them disrespectful or appropriate.” So what was the next step in this dress-code saga?
It was clear that Demetra’s dad wasn’t going to go down without a fight. He cared deeply about his daughter’s wellbeing, as well as all the other schoolgirls who felt the same embarrassment as Demetra. Tony’s work ended up stretching far beyond NextDoor.com. Just two weeks after the incident, on September 11, 2017, a group of parents and school officials had an official meeting to discuss the issue and to try and come to some sort of agreement moving forward.
Knowing that she had a lot of people in the same room with conflicting opinions on the matter, Fraser needed to draw a fine line between giving the people what they wanted and honoring the school. “I do reserve the right to set guidelines for the school,” she said. “But I want to lead with the pulse of the community and reflect the community’s core values.” The meeting seemed to go well, but did it affect any kind of change?
Despite having what seemed to be a productive meeting, it turns out that Raymond J. Fisher Middle School was not about to make any changes to its dress code. Naturally, the Alarcon family were extremely disappointed by the verdict as they were hoping to make huge changes. Although they came out of the meeting fairly optimistic, it was confirmed on September 22, 2017, that no changes would be made. So what’s next for Demetra, her dad and the rest of the school?
The first few days after the fateful decision must’ve been extremely upsetting for Demetra, Tony and everyone else who was rooting for her. After this strange, awkward episode, it had ended with a fairly anti-climactic outcome. Now Demetra had to show up at school again and along with many other girls in her school, feel as if the place that she studied at didn’t fully support her cause. How could she bounce back from this moment of injustice?
It wasn’t just Demetra who was excited to celebrate graduating from middle school. Her older sister Gwyneth was also moving onto another chapter in her life. Gwyneth had finally graduated from Los Gatos High School and it was now time to start thinking about college and life after high school. However, she couldn’t ignore her own big day and brought Demetra, Tony, and her mom along for the ride. It was a truly special day for the entire family.
Demetra is certainly not the only schoolgirl in America to experience an uncomfortable response from school officials due to the way she dressed. One student was given detention for the dress she wore: a floor-length gown. According to the student, her school told her that it was a distraction to male students. The girl took to social media and expressed her concerns on Facebook. However, other girls have found other ways to express their frustrations about potentially sexist dress-codes…
In one school where another group of teenage girls experienced the same issue, one decided to take matters into their own hands and write a note and post it around the school. The message truly got to the core of how many young schoolgirls are feeling right now: As the summer months approach please remember….Girls wear shorts in order to stay cool when hot, not for you. We are 17 years old, stop sexualizing our bodies. If my shorts make you uncomfortable YOU are the problem.
Live To Fight Another Day
Ultimately, the lack of changes must’ve been devastating for Tony, after working so hard to try and make something happen. Nevertheless, it seems like Demetra’s dad will carry on trying to fight to make sure that his daughter and her schoolmates can dress comfortably without being scrutinized by the school authorities. When everything’s said and done, Tony is still convinced that these kids should be allowed to wear denim shorts and rompers to school. “They’re just kids,” he said.