Female junior high students told their shorts are distracting classmates and teachers

TRURO, N.S. – How short is too short? That’s the question at the centre of a fight brewing between students, parents and school administrators in Truro, N.S.

Several female students were given detention during the lunch hour on Tuesday, after administration at Truro Junior High School deemed their shorts too revealing.

The mother of one of the girls arrived at the school that afternoon and pulled her daughter out of class for the day.

“It’s getting to be too much mainly because I think she is being singled out. I’d rather she was around people who love her and support her than be somewhere where I don’t think she’s being treated fairly,” said Jami Northrup.

Her daughter, Coraleigh Nelson, 13, used to self-harm but stopped a couple years ago. According to the Grade 8 student, school administration told her she couldn’t wear the shorts because of the scars on her legs.

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“She said that I was not allowed to wear shorts because of my scars and they made people feel uncomfortable so that made me want to wear shorts even more so. I did but I keep getting into trouble,” Nelson said.

WATCH: Coraleigh Nelson was pulled out of after administrators allegedly told her that her scars from self-harm were too distracting and she needed to wear longer shorts

Click to play video: 'Raw video: Student told to hide scars with longer shorts' Raw video: Student told to hide scars with longer shorts
Raw video: Student told to hide scars with longer shorts – May 13, 2014

The fight began last Thursday, when Nelson’s friend Makayla King was first disciplined for wearing shorts.

“They told me that it was too short and for me. They didn’t want to see my thighs,” said Makayla King, 13.

She says the school told her the length was “distracting to male faculty and students.”

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Makayla King (R), 13, has been told by her school to stop wearing these shorts and pairs similar in length.

In the days following, she has refused to stop wearing shorts and has been joined in protest by other girls at the school.

King’s mother, Julia Davison, has spoken to the school’s vice-principal multiple times but the two sides can’t come to an agreement. Davison argues the girls’ shorts are not an inappropriate length and points out the school board doesn’t have a clear dress code.

“They’re being given the impression that because men are distracted by their legs or by their scars or by their anything that it’s not okay and they have to change. It’s not right,” Davison said.

Davison started an online petition calling on the school board to re-evaluate their stance on clothing. It had reached more than 5,300 signatures in one day.

The Chiegnecto-Central Regional School Board doesn’t have an official dress code for students. Spokeswoman Debbie Buott-Matheson says all students are simply encouraged to dress appropriately.

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“We’re not saying students can’t wear muscle shirts or shorts or those kinds of things when they are not at school. We just ask that they dress in a way that is appropriate when they come to school.”

WATCH: Is the school board right to punish female students for the length of their shorts?

Nelson and King have been told that if they were shorts on Wednesday, they will not be allowed in the classroom and have to sit in the school’s office all day.

Both girls intend to wear their shorts.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Jami Northrup as Jodi Northrup. The story has been corrected.

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