Students at a Rome high school wore mini skirts and short tops on Wednesday in protest of a female teacher’s reportedly sexist rebuke of a 16-year-old girl for baring her midriff.
In a story that has received extensive media coverage in Italy, a teacher at Liceo Righi is accused of remarking to the girl, “Are you on the Salaria?” referring to a route in Rome infamous for prostitution.
According to the Italian newspaper La Stampa, dozens of male and female students went to school on Wednesday morning, revealing their navels behind a banner that said “Welcome to the Middle Ages.”
“After the insults of a teacher received by a student of our high school we decided to give a strong and clear signal to reiterate that sexism cannot have space in schools” – said the students – “Now we will all go to school together dressed in a way to violate the dress code in solidarity with the offended student.”
The student at the centre of the story told news agency Adnkronos: “The teacher did not expressly call me a prostitute, but she accused me of commercialising my body, because of the way I was dressed.”
She said that she and a classmate were recording a video for TikTok during a free lesson when the instructor in issue strolled in and made the statement.
Despite accusations of bias, the girl believes that she would not have been insulted if she had been a boy.
During a subsequent meeting, in front of the principal, the girl said she asked the teacher: “If you were to meet a boy at school with short shorts what would you say to him?” The teacher allegedly replied: “Are you at the beach?”.
According to La Stampa, the principal stated that the teacher apologized for the “unfortunate remark” and that she did not mean to offend the girl, and that there is “bitterness among the teachers” because the offending term and the controversy surrounding it is “overshadowing everything positive” done by the school.