Dozens of teenagers in Opelika, Alabama, were barred entry to their high school's homecoming dance because officials said their dresses were too short.
The families of some of the girls have responded, pushing back against what they think is an unreasonable dress code.
"To me, it felt like body-shaming," Cody Sellers King told TODAY. King's 14-year-old daughter, Sydney, was turned away at the dance for wearing a black dress that came down past the midway point of her thighs.
"I saw a couple girls whose shirts were probably too short, but most of them were just perfectly fine," she added. "I thought, 'This is wrong.'"
Kathy Niswender said her daughter, Hunter, who is also 14, was humiliated when the school's vice president stopped her at the door and told her she couldn’t enter her first dance.
"[The vice president's] like, 'Oh honey, you look beautiful, you're gorgeous, but I can't let you in because your dress doesn't touch your knees,'" Kathy said. "[Hunter] was wronged, she was embarrassed. Her first dance experience was ruined."
Kathy told TODAY that forcing girls to wear knee-length dresses doesn't make sense given the current standards of fashion.
"Fashion changes," she said. "- to 18-year-old girls don't wear dresses down to their knees."
Destiney Laro took to Facebook when she learned that her younger sister, whose dress nearly touched her knees, had been asked to leave the dance.
"This is a church dress," she wrote. "There's absolutely NOTHING wrong with what she's wearing ... She looks classy and nothing is revealing. I feel sorry for all the kids who are in high school now, they're so strict that they can't even enjoy some of the things I loved most about high school."
School officials have since conceded that it was a mistake to stop the girls from entering the dance, citing a discrepancy between the school district's dress code and that of the high school itself.
The school district's superintendent, Mark Neighbors, released the following statement, according to WTVM:
We are always trying to balance a good environment for our students while maintaining a positive culture and school environment. We realize that there is a conflict between the dress code guidelines in the Opelika City Schools Code of Student Conduct and the Opelika High School Student Handbook. It appears that some of the girls that were turned away from the homecoming dance last night did have dresses that were appropriate and some of them were not. We apologize for the confusion and disappointment and will refund the cost of the dance ticket to those individuals who were turned away. We will correct the discrepancy in the code of conduct and student handbook to reflect the board policy. Once again, we apologize to our students and to our parents.
A second homecoming dance will be held on Sept. 23 in order to give the girls another chance. To avoid any confusion, Principal Farrell Seymore sent a letter to parents clarifying the dance's dress code.
"Proper dress length for this event is mid-thigh," he wrote.