07/10/2014 15:27 BST | Updated 20/05/2015 10:12 BST

School 'Compared Pupils To Prostitutes' By Using Pretty Woman In Dress Code Assembly


A school in the US is embroiled in a media row after allegedly comparing female pupils who violate the school's dress code to prostitutes by showing clips from Pretty Woman to illustrate inappropriate clothing.

Upset pupils and parents have blasted the assembly, which was directed only at female students at Devils Lake High School in North Dakota, as offensive and sexist 'slut-shaming'.

"Boys should be able control to control themselves," said one mum, adding that female pupils 'should be able to wear what they're comfortable in.'

Article continues after this video.

'Pretty Woman' Dress Code Assembly Stirs Controversy

Headteacher Ryan Hanson was quick to defend the decision to show excerpts from the 1990 romantic comedy, in which Julia Roberts plays a prostitute taken under the wing of a wealthy businessman.

Hanson described the clip shown as an innocent comment on appropriate dress for different situations: "Julia Roberts is scantily clad and walks into a store and they basically admonish her and say this probably isn't the store for you.

"The next clip showed her after a makeover, dressed to the nines really looking appropriate. She goes into the same store and they treat her much differently."

The school has already attracted media attention for its super-strict clothing policy, which includes a ban on skinny jeans, jeggings and leggings, prompting frustrated student Mariah Fixen to complain to the local newspaper: "That's what everyone wears, that's their whole wardrobe."

Most state schools in the US don't have uniforms, so school management must draw up and enforce their own dress codes to determine what is considered appropriate attire.

But even in the UK, where school uniform is mandatory in 79 per cent of primary schools and 98 per cent of secondary schools, rows over pupils' clothing has been an endless source of media attention.

Last month, a Newcastle academy came under fire after a pupil with foot problems who wore non-uniform canvas shoes was forced to write lines reading 'Decent people take pride in their appearance'. At another school, a pupil wearing incorrect footwear was made to work in a storage cupboard.

Footwear isn't the only point of contention, with skirts often the target of zealous school administrators.

One school on the Isle of Wight made headlines for sending 250 girls home for wearing skirts judged 'too short', while Diss High School in Norfolk banned them altogether after one too many rows over hemlines.