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A 17-year-old says she was told to put Band-Aids on her breasts after school officials claimed she was distracting male students

INSIDER logoINSIDER 4/11/2018 (Lucy Yang)

a person standing in a room: dress code lizzy martinez © Provided by Business Insider Inc dress code lizzy martinez

Officials at a high school in Florida reportedly pulled a teenage girl out of class last week after a teacher claimed her nipples were distracting male students.

Student Lizzy Martinez said she recently went to school bra-less because she had a sunburn.

Martinez, 17, told Yahoo Lifestyle that she "didn't think anything of it" when she decided not to wear a bra to school on April 2. According to the student, she was recovering from a sunburn and did not want her shoulders to be further irritated by bra straps. Instead, Martinez, a junior at Braden River High School in Bradenton, Florida, opted for a gray long-sleeve shirt that day.

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But before the school day was over, she was reportedly pulled out of her fifth-period class and sent to the dean's office.

According to BuzzFeed News, which spoke to Martinez as well as school officials, the dean told Martinez that one of her teachers was concerned that her breasts and nipples were "distracting" male students after hearing a boy laugh at her and tell his friends that she wasn't wearing a bra.

The dean then instructed Martinez to put on a second shirt, stand up, and "jump around" to "see how much [her] breasts moved," the student told BuzzFeed News. After that, Martinez said she was taken to the nurse's office and asked to cover up each of her nipples with two Band-Aids.

Martinez later took to Twitter to speak out about the incident. "I decided not to wear a bra today and got pulled out of class [because] one of my teachers complained that it was a 'distraction to boys in my class,'" she tweeted on April 2. "My school basically told me that boys' education is far more important than mine and I should be ashamed of my body."

Martinez's mom, Kari Knop, also voiced her disagreement with school officials on social media. In a Facebook post from April 2, Knop revealed that she found out about the incident when the dean called her about Martinez's choice to go braless at school.

The school district says the student violated its dress code policy.

When INSIDER reached out to officials at Braden River High School for comment, Mitchell Teitelbaum, general counsel for the School District of Manatee County, confirmed that the incident with Martinez had been "brought to the attention of the Superintendent's Office for review."

"It is undisputed that this matter should have been handled differently at the school level," Teitelbaum said in a prepared statement emailed to INSIDER. "Corrective measures have been taken to prevent a reoccurrence in the way these matters will be addressed in the future."

In the statement, Teitelbaum said that Martinez had violated the school's dress code. "It is clear the intent of school officials was to assist the student in addressing the situation," Teitelbaum continued.

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As it stands, the current Code of Student Conduct for the School District of Manatee County does not explicitly require students to wear bras. The district's policy only prohibits "personal attire or grooming" that "distracts the attention of other students or teachers from their school work" or "disrupts educational activities and processes of the school." According to the dress code, students will be required to "make the necessary alterations to such attire or grooming" before entering a classroom again, or they may be assigned to an in-school suspension.

When INSIDER asked Knop if school officials ever specified which part of its policy her daughter had allegedly violated, she said she was initially told that Martinez "was not in dress code violation." According to Knop, it was only after she "pursued the matter further" that the school district's Superintendent — who Knop said "never saw the shirt on [Martinez]" — claimed that the 17-year-old had violated the Code of Student Conduct.

According to a Facebook post from April 4, Knop also claimed that the Superintendent "assured" her that next year's dress code would be updated to require female students to wear a bra "because that is proper attire for learning." Knop said that when she asked whether men with "man boobs" would be required to wear similar "supportive devices," the Superintendent said "a bra is not an expectation [the school] has for males."

When INSIDER reached to school officials about these alleged changes, Michael Barber, the district's director of communications, family, and community engagement, declined to comment and referred to the prepared statement provided by Teitelbaum above.

Related Video: Are Girls Held To Higher Dress Code Standards? [Provided by CBS Minnesota]


The student and her mom are now speaking out against the school's dress code.

In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Knop said the incident with her daughter "is a disgusting example of a double standard" that "shows how our culture body-shames women." Knop continued: "If a boy was staring at her nipples that long, why was he not spoken to or punished?"

"They had to ask her to stand up and bounce her breasts around to show it was a distraction," the mom added. "So how was it a distraction?"

The mom told INSIDER that she asked school officials whether they planned to discipline the male students who laughed at Lizzy, as well as the teacher who reported her daughter, but "they deflected that question repeatedly."

According to BuzzFeed News, Martinez is "planning a protest to push back on the school's outdated views." The student, who returned to school on Monday, told INSIDER that she believes the incident had more to do with "body shaming" than it did with "being decent and respecting dress codes."

"It's ridiculous that it's even a discussion, but clearly we have to have a conversation about people respecting girls and their choices to wear a bra or not wear a bra," Martinez added.

The 17-year-old  — who was blocked from her high school's official Twitter account on April 3 after she tweeted at it to "stop sexualizing [her] body" — also called the district's alleged plans to require female students to wear bras "completely ridiculous."

"They said they are setting us up to be professional in the future, but I think it encourages rape culture," Martinez told INSIDER. Instead of teaching boys to "grow accustomed to the idea that girls don't need to wear bras," or teaching boys to control themselves, such dress codes may leave students vulnerable to "lawsuits for sexual harassment and misconduct," she said.

"It's very uncomfortable for people to talk about but this is a big issue that a lot of girls feel targeted and sexualized and have to live up to a standard of what we have to look like and wear," the student told BuzzFeed News.

Read the full statement from Mitchell Teitelbaum, on behalf of the School District of Manatee County, below:

"This matter was brought to the attention of the Superintendent’s Office for review.  It is undisputed that this matter should have been handled differently at the school level and corrective measures have been taken to prevent a reoccurrence in the way these matters will be addressed in the future. There was a violation of the School Dress Code and it was an appropriate matter to address by the School. It is clear the intent of school officials was to assist the student in addressing the situation. No disciplinary action was taken in relation to the student."

Read Knop's complete Facebook post from April 2 below:

"Today I got a phone call from one of the dean's at Braden River High School because my daughter chose to not wear a 

bra to school. Her shirt was not see-through, it was a thick long sleeve gray shirt. But because a teacher said that 'students' found it to be 'distracting,' they chose to call me as they asked my daughter to put on a second shirt. After putting on the second shirt, the dean then asked my child to stand up and move around (to see how much her breasts bounced).

Issues I have:

1) The school has no dress code policy statement that states children must wear undergarments of any kind.

2) Another female student, walking out at same time had no bra on and no one said a word to her.

3) Had the dean been a male, the bouncing boob request would have been HIGHLY inappropriate and given the culture we live in, I don't find this request to be acceptable by either sex, as they all could and should be viewed as predatory.

4) Male students are not asked to wear another layer of clothing to cover their nipples.

5) Instead of shaming a kid, why not teach people to look at one's face instead of chest??? PROBLEM WOULD BE SOLVED!!!

I have never given bras much consideration, but after this, I am hot. #freethenips #freethetatas #stopsexshaming #stopbodyshaming#ifitsokayforamaleitsokayforafemale #burnthebras#shameonbradenriverhighschool#bigbreastsmallbreastsshouldallbetreatedthesame #brhs#bradenriverhighschool"

Read Knop's complete Facebook post from April 4 below:

"Last post, I swear, regarding this nonsense. The superintendent called me and her words were:

If it wasn't a dress code violation then they should have never called you (so I sent her the picture of her attire). She then said — however if her nipples were showing and causing a distraction, then her attire was in direct violation of the dress code and you should have been called to address it. They should have never asked her to move around or put Band-Aids on. And (basically) I assure you next year's dress code will make it clear that girls are expected to wear a bra because that is proper attire for learning...........what the freak does everyone think of this???

I told her we would not ask a guy who has man boobs to wear a supportive device and we would never ask a male to cover up his nipples. At which time she told me because a bra is not an expectation we have for males!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Related: Why Are School Uniforms & Dress Codes Still Around? [Provided by Refinery29]





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