Rome school dress code protest over sexist jibe

"Salaria" controversy makes national news in Italy.

Students at a Rome high school on Wednesday dressed in mini skirts and short tops in protest over the allegedly sexist comment of a female teacher who reprimanded a 16-year-old girl for baring her midriff.

The teacher at Liceo Righi is accused of saying to the girl "Are you on the Salaria?", a reference to a road in Rome known for prostitution, in a controversy that has gained widespread media coverage in Italy.

On Wednesday morning dozens of students, male and female, went to school exposing their navels under a banner that read "Welcome to the Middle Ages", reports Italian newspaper La Stampa.

"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 during a free lesson she and a classmate were making a video to post on TikTok when the teacher in question walked in and made the remark.

Amid claims of double standards, the girl says that if she were a boy she would not have been insulted.

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?".

The principal said the teacher apologised for the "unfortunate remark" and that she had not intended to offend the girl - reports La Stampa - adding that there is "bitterness among the teachers" because the offending term and the controversy around it is "overshadowing everything positive" done by the school.

Photo Il Messaggero