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Joplin Parent Looking Into Legal Options After Alleged "Body Shaming"

Updated:
Joplin, MO -

Below are statements we have received from:

1.)  An attorney representing a parent who claims her daughter was "body shamed" at the Joplin High School

2.)  The Joplin School District

The picture included with this story is the student, Kelsey Anderson, who says this is what she was wearing when she was cited for a dress code violation. 

We plan on getting more details of this story tomorrow.

Statement from Anderson's attorney

"On Friday, September 8th, 2017, Ms. Kelsey Anderson, a 17-year-old high school student at Joplin High School in Joplin, MO was sent to the office for a dress code violation, being told by her teacher that she was too “busty” and that “plus-sized women” need to shop at stores that sell plus-sized clothes. The teacher also told Ms. Anderson that “smaller busted women could get away with more than larger busted women”.

“I was mortified by my teacher, of all people, saying something like this in front of my class,” said Ms. Anderson. “When I was pulled into a meeting with the Principal, he told me that he had never heard of me being victimized before and he didn’t really believe what I said.”

“It is sad that in this day and age, when we teach children and young adults about the dangers of bullying and body shaming with laws to protect against bullying, that we have to worry about the adults in our children’s lives being the ones to hurt them. Bullying and body shaming isn’t something to take lightly,” said Elizabeth L. Turner, Ms. Anderson’s attorney. “Ms. Anderson is a beautiful young lady with nothing to be ashamed of, and any adult that treats her the way she was treated should be the one ashamed.”

According to Time.com, suicide rates among teens have hit a 40-year high, almost doubling for girls in the last 8 years. (See http://time.com/4887282/teen-suicide-rate-cdc/). Body shaming is prevalent among teenage girls; with an astounding 94% having been body shamed, according to http://www.wcnc.com/news/features/study-94-of-teenage-girls-have-been-body-shamed/436143277.

“I just don’t want any other girls to go through what I’ve been through and treated how I’ve been treated,” said Ms. Anderson. “I asked to be accommodated so I don’t have to go back to her class, but I was told no.”

Statement from Joplin School District

"While we understand the public’s interest in this matter, the District is unfortunately unable to comment on specific incidents regarding students and school personnel. The District does not consider comments by staff members about students’ bodies appropriate. Our staff conduct policy requires all staff members to maintain courteous and professional relationships with students. This incident is being investigated by the administration to determine if this policy has been violated.

The District’s Board of Education Policy JFCA, Student Dress Code, provides that “[t]he Board of Education recognizes the value of allowing individual student expression as well as the necessity of protecting student health and safety and maintaining an atmosphere conducive to education. Student dress code procedures must be designed with the goal of balancing these competing interests. All dress code procedures will adhere to health and safety codes and comply with applicable law. Dress that materially disrupts the educational environment will be prohibited. No procedure will impose dress and grooming rules based on gender in violation of Title IX. District procedures will specifically define ambiguous terms, and examples will be provided when practicable.”

It may be frustrating to hear that we cannot address individual student issues or personnel concerns with the public.  However, in order to protect the privacy of all individuals involved, and due to the confidentiality of student and personnel information under federal law and Board Policy, the District is unable to comment further at this time. Thank you for understanding as we continue to investigate the issue."

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