Turlock, CA — Students at Pitman High School in Turlock, California staged a protest this month after a fellow student was suspended and placed under arrest by police over her choice of crop top shirt.
“He handcuffed me and I had my hands behind my back. And then I went into the golf cart up to the office and he filed a police report,” said Olivia Millentree, the girl who was suspended and arrested by school police over her attire.
According to school officials, Millentree was wearing a crop top and leggings — which could be considered appropriate dress — but a teacher claimed it was “distracting” so she was sent to the office.
“It made me feel targeted because I don’t think it was a distraction to others,” Millentree said, according to FOX 40.
Feeling like she’d been targeted unfairly by the school’s bias dress code, Millentree civilly disobeyed the teacher’s instruction to put on a t-shirt. The move subsequently led to her suspension and removal from campus.
Millentree then left campus as she was told. However, the high school senior said she regretted her rude words she used when arguing over the dress code, so she returned to campus to apologize.
“Words were exchanged that should not have been exchanged, and I came back at lunch to apologize for my behavior,” Millentree said.
Her return to campus was considered trespassing by the school resource officer who promptly placed her in handcuffs and arrested her.
“I was scared. I was embarrassed; I was upset at the whole situation. A lot of people were looking at me,” Millentree said.
Sadly, because of this incident, Millentree will not be allowed to return to campus, nor will she be allowed to walk in the graduation ceremony.
“It’s sad cause that is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and it makes me very sad that it came to this and that they used that against me,” Millentree said.
Though Millentree now has a criminal record that was sparked over a dress code violation, her choice to disobey has led to progress.
According to reports, after witnessing their fellow student’s arrest over her choice of attire, more than 100 students led a protest last week claiming the school’s police state enforcement of the dress code is sexist and biased toward males.
“I understand that dress codes is there for a reason, but I think the dress code is very, very strict,” said sophomore Holly Blythe, as she sported a much shorter crop top as part of the protest.
Blythe and dozens of other students all wore revealing crop tops as part of the protest to bring attention to what they say is a sexist dress code that unfairly punishes female students.
“Guys can wear no shirts at practice and I have to wear a t-shirt. I can’t wear a tank top. I can’t show any midriff. I can’t wear a sports bra. I don’t understand why guys can do one thing and girls can’t,” Blythe said.
The protest and accompanying petition worked and the Turlock Unified School District released a statement promising change.
According to FOX 40 the school district called the protest peaceful and respectful and said they will use the feedback from students and parents to revise the dress code next year.
The student protest today on dress code has been very peaceful. Pitman students have been respectful and have not caused a disruption to the learning environment. Some students silently participated by wearing a sticker instead of a certain shirt. Our students have provided some good feedback on aspects of our current dress code. In working with students, parents, and PBIS site teams, we will be moving forward at revising the TUSD dress code for the 2021-2022 school year.
ANGELA FREEMAN, PITMAN HIGH SCHOOL PRINCIPAL
Both Turlock and Pitman High Schools are gathering student input and will be following a process to revise the TUSD Dress Code in collaboration with Student Services and our 7-12 site PBIS teams.
MARIE RUSSELL, CHIEF COMMUNICATION COORDINATOR TUSD
This incident is very similar to an incident on which TFTP reported two weeks ago. In that case, a young mother in Oklahoma was detained by police and humiliated on her family vacation after an officer accused her of wearing shorts that were too short.
Bailey Breedlove says the officer who stopped her proceeded to tell her that her shorts were too short. Moments later, she’d be threatened with arrest and escorted out of the park, banned for five years.