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Tennessee Mom’s Email To Daughter’s School About Optional Masking Policy Is Going Viral

The email hilariously and poignantly points out an unfair double standard in school policy.

Hamilton County Schools in Tennessee announced on Wednesday that while masks would be “required” among staff and students starting Monday, Aug. 16, parents could opt their child out of the mandate simply by filling out a form. One unidentified Chattanooga mother, however, was having none of it and her email to the local school board has gone viral for cleverly highlighting how opting out creates a double standard in school policies about what students can and cannot wear.

To mask or not to mask has been the question for schools across the country. While the CDC has recommended masking in schools for the 2021-2022 school year to curb the spread of Covid-19, the recommendation has bumped up against opposition from some parents and even the policies of some Republican governors, who have prohibited mask mandates in their states via executive order. Debate between parents determined to “unmask our kids” and those who wish to adhere to the guidance of the CDC has reached fever pitch in some states, culminating in rallies and tense confrontations at school board meetings across the country. This Chattanooga mother’s message is different, however, in that it takes a different approach to masking policy, beyond “yay” or “nay.”

In a tweet from @markmobility, which has been liked more than 25,000 times, her email to the school board brilliantly highlights the double standard at play in the “opt-out” policy.

“I am writing to request the parent opt-out form to opt-out of the school dress code,” she wrote to the school board, principal of East Hamilton High School, and school registrar. “As the parent of a daughter at East Hamilton, I find the school’s dress code policy to be misogynistic and detrimental to the self-esteem of young women.”

“In light of the opt-out option related to the recently announce mask mandate, I can only assume that parents are now in a position to pick and choose the school policies to which their child should be subject [sic].”

The mother went on to say that her feminist principles motivated her “opt-out” of dress code, and that her daughter should not under any circumstances be subjected to dress code policy, and should be allowed to wear leggings, spaghetti straps, cut offs, or anything else that makes her feel comfortable.

Romper has attempted to confirm the veracity of this viral letter and has reached out to the Hamilton County School Board as well as East Hamilton High School Principal Eller Brent for comment.

School dress codes have made headlines in recent years, with students and parents highlighting the ways policies have unfairly targeted girls and trans and Black students, prioritizing a white, cis-male-centered status quo over the education of those targeted, sexualizing or othering them in the process. But students and their parents are increasingly pushing back against these policies. In 2019, South Carolina parents petitioned the Fort Mill School District to create a fairer dress code for all students. While this viral letter is the latest argument in the “dress code” debate, it is unlikely it will be the last.

Additional reporting by Morgan Brinlee.