The 8th grade dance is a great time for kids to dress up and see each other in the different light.
Like, I remember the first time I saw this one girl who’s father owned the neighborhood pork store. Her dad drove her to the dance in his delivery truck as though it were a limo; and when she walked out, my eyes bulged out of my head.

It was like I was seeing a girl for the first time.

Her name was Linda, and she never looked as fine in her Catholic school uniform.

Memories like that stay with you forever.

That’s probably why the principal of the Readington Middle School is instituting a dress code for girls.

She wants there to be no strapless gowns, saying that it distracts the boys.
Like I was “distracted” back in the day.

I understand her concern; but I daresay the distraction has already begun.

Is a little more going to hurt?

And to top it off, the girls’ parents are upset as well, saying they alone and not the principal should be making the decision as to what to wear to the dance.

The annual year-end dinner dance is supposed to be a way for eighth-graders at Readington Middle School to relax and celebrate.

But this year it has become a lesson on civil liberties and gender studies, thanks to the school principal banning strapless dresses for girls. The reason? She considers them too distracting for boys.

This dress-code fight, however, isn’t being waged by rebellious preteens. It’s their parents who plan to attend the Board of Education’s meeting at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, at Holland Brook School, 52 Readington Road, Whitehouse Station, to petition for a rule suspension.

Charlotte Nijenhuis, a mother who is leading this battle, called the rule arbitrary, sexist and a violation of her daughter’s 14th Amendment rights to due process and equal protection.
Plus, strapless dresses were allowed in previous years, parents said.

“I’m objecting to the fact that government can come in and change the rules without asking parents. That’s an abuse of authority,” Nijenhuis said Monday.

Principal Sharon Moffat this month sent parents a letter, which said that “young gentlemen are encouraged to wear collared shirts and trousers; many boys wear ties or jackets. Young ladies should wear a skirt, dress with straps, or dressy pants outfit. Jeans or sneakers are not appropriate for this event.”

Nijenhuis said she spoke to Moffat, who told her that any girl who shows up with a strapless dress would be turned away.

The dance is being conducted at a private venue, Razberry’s in Frenchtown, and parents are footing the bill. Many parents already have purchased dresses for their daughters, they said.

“Ms. Moffat has stated that such dresses ‘distract boys’ and are ‘inappropriate’ for young girls. As a parent, she is free to dictate the attire of her children, but as a principal of a public school and representative of all of the residents of Readington, she ought to not unilaterally dictate what our children may or may not wear,” Nijenhuis wrote in a letter to Superintendent Barbara Sargent, who backed the principal.

“Ms. Moffat’s comment about ‘distraction’ to the boys is particularly offensive because it suggests that boys are not able to control — or ought not to be required to control — their behavior when in the presence of girls wearing strapless dresses,” Nijenhuis said.
“It is neither a woman’s nor a girl’s responsibility to control a man’s or boy’s behavior.”
Sargent could not be reached for comment Monday.

Melissa May, 37, said she disagreed with the tone of the principal’s letter.

“I would not allow my daughter to wear something that I felt was inappropriate to a function like that,” May said. “As parents, we should have the ability to say what our children wear.”

Yes Melissa, you should, ordinarily.

Unless the school is sponsoring the event.

And in this case, while I hate to be the buzzkill and ruin the fun for the girls (and boys who will be deprived of the pleasure of being “distracted”); it’s the school’s decision as to what’s proper for boys and girls to wear to the dance.

Just another case of parents feeing entitled.