A South Carolina high school student is speaking out after she was sent to in-school suspension for wearing an almost knee-length skirt.
“Thank you for letting me know that while I may think that I am dressing up for my Teacher Cadet lesson, I am in fact dressing to go to a night club or the whore house,” Carey Burgess, the 17-year-old student body president of Beaufort High School, wrote on Facebook on Tuesday.
In her post, Burgess said a teacher approached her in the hallway to tell her the khaki skirt she was wearing was “too short.” She then reportedly told Burgess, “You need to go to in-school suspension and then go home.”
“Thank you for bringing me to tears in front of my friends and classmates because you do not have the decency to pull me aside and explain the problem,” she wrote in an open letter to the teacher who reprimanded her. “Then again, I did not have the decency to put on real clothes today.
The Beaufort County School District’s uniform policy states that skirts must be “modest and of sufficient length” – “no shorter than three inches above the top of the knee.”
However, Burgess says in the post that the issue is not one of dress, but of gender.
“Maybe our society isn’t yet advanced enough to handle 3 inches of my thigh. This is a patriarchal society and I am a woman,” Burgess wrote in her post, which has been shared more than 10,000 times. “I have to be kept in my place, or I may do something that is so rarely seen in Beaufort High School- learn.”
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Burgess told The Beaufort Gazette that she’s worn the same skirt in the past with no issues but also calls Beaufort High’s policy “shaky” and unclear.
Yet Beaufort High School principal Corey Murphy defended the teacher’s actions in the Gazette while commending Burgess for her communication skills.
“She’s a wonderful writer; she’s a very gifted writer,” he reportedly said. “That’s what it was, you can feel the emotion in her words. Something like that, that’s impressive.”
Murphy told PEOPLE that the skirt, shown in the Facebook post, was acceptable. However, he added, “the way she wore it during school was not, it was far shorter.”
“The posting was very misleading and inflammatory. [Burgess] was treated as any student, regardless of rank or title, would have been treated … with dignity and respect,” he said. “My assistant principal acted appropriately and in a manner consistent with the district’s approved policy.”
Burgess ends her post by saying, “I am a woman with thighs, a butt, and a brain. I am bigger than Beaufort High School. All of us are. Maybe instead of worrying about my skirt, Beaufort High should take notice of its competent employees, and sexist leaders.”
Burgess did not immediately respond to a request for comment from PEOPLE.