A US mother has expressed outrage after her five-year-old daughter was forced to change out of a summer dress at kindergarten.
Emily Stewart, from Minnesota, sent her daughter, Harmony, to school wearing a spaghetti-strap dress layered with a lightweight jumper and a pair of jeans.
However, when she collected Harmony from Hugo Elementary, Stewart was shocked to discover her daughter had been made to change her clothes.
Sharing a side-by-side picture of the two outfits on Facebook, Stewart wrote a lengthy caption explaining that Harmony’s teachers described her daughter's summer dress as “inappropriate” before telling her to go the nurse's office.
According to the child, she was asked to “cover her body” and given a pink short-sleeved T-shirt to wear instead.
“As a mother, how am I supposed to teach my daughter to love and celebrate her body when she has people telling her she ‘needs privacy’,” Stewart wrote on social media.
“Why was her dress looked at as an inappropriate outfit to begin with? She is five, why is she being sexualised?”
Stewart went on to reveal that the most distressing part of the incident was the impact it had on her daughter.
When she asked Harmony why she was wearing the T-shirt and how being asked to change made her feel, Stewart said the little girl started crying and described having to leave class as “super-embarrassing”.
“How do I teach a little girl that what she wears and her appearance is not nearly as important as her education and self development when things like this happen?” Stewart concluded.
Since posting on 16 April, Stewart’s Facebook post has been shared more than 27,000 times.
It has also received over 11,000 comments from people sharing similar stories and offering their support.
“She is five years old. NOTHING about her or on her should be sexualised,” one person wrote.
“If you see a problem with this outfit, you are the problem.”
Another added: “How revolting. That little girl was so proud and happy in her dress. good for you mamma!! Why can’t people just let kids be happy.”
As a result of the backlash, Jason Healy, headmaster at Hugo Elementary, told Fox News that the school is currently reviewing its protocols.
“We are reviewing our protocols at Hugo Elementary,” he said.
“The student dress and appearance policy has been an item of discussion this year in White Bear Lake Area Schools.”
Stewart has since updated the Facebook post to say the school policy has been changed, revealing it no longer includes “the ability for adults to make determinations about the appropriateness of a child’s body”.
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