NJ Parents Protest Strapless Dress Ban for 8th Grade Dance

Some New Jersey parents are upset that a principal has banned girls from wearing strapless dresses to an eighth grade dance.

Readington Middle School principal Sharon Moffat wrote a letter to parents this month laying out a dress code -- "collared shirts and trousers" for boys, and a skirt or dress with straps for girls.

When parent Charlotte Nijenhuis disagreed with the dress code and spoke with Moffat about it, she says the principal told her strapless dresses "distract boys."

The principal also allegedly told Nijenhuis any student who showed up in a strapless dress would be turned away from the dance.

Nijenhuis says it's neither a woman's nor a girl's responsibility to control a man's or boy's behavior. 

Nijenhuis and other parents took their dress code protest to the school board Tuesday night. The superintendent and the school principal had no comment other than to say they would review the policy and make an announcement next month. 

Parents are funding the dance, which is scheduled to be held at a private venue. They say strapless dresses have been permitted in years past, and many have already bought the dresses specifically for the upcoming dance.

Another parent, Nancy Garceau, told NBC 4 New York that the kids are old enough to handle formal dress.

"They get dressed up, it's a nice formal occasion, and they're much more mature than that, and they can handle it better than they're getting credit for," she said.

Not everyone agreed. Father Phillip Ritter said at the meeting, "It's not about a dress. It's respecting authority. If this is what they've decided to do, do it." 

--Jen Maxfield and Ida Siegal contributed to this story

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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