Regarding “Wearing defiance (but not on her sleeves),” on sixth-grade Portland schoolgirl Molly Neuner’s protest over a dress code (Page A1, April 13):

Schools are not only for education – they are also stages where young people may learn the power of dressing appropriately for the circumstances.

It was more than a “distraction” when a man came to my older son’s First Communion dressed in plaid shorts, a polo shirt and knee-high white socks. It was an affront to a sacred occasion, communicating to the children that this once-in-a-lifetime event was on par with playtime.

I also recall a woman attending a church wedding in a very tight cropped top, designed to show off her well-toned midriff and implying that her mind was less on the couple getting married than on herself.

And then there was the young teller whose tight, low-cut top suggested she was more interested in the attentions of the male clients than she was in doing her job.

Scanty clothing may not be a distraction in a casual environment, but it is when a higher purpose is at hand. That is why teachers, administrators and other school staff do not come to their jobs in tank tops and shorts.

Young people need to understand that it is not their bodies per se that are the distraction, but the message they send through their clothing choices. If I were a teacher and young Molly showed up in my class in a tank top, I would question if her mind was more on being at the beach than on her studies. And, yes – that is a message I would not want her fellow students to be receiving.

Zoe Gaston

Cape Elizabeth