According to Fusion, during an assembly at Clements High School in Sugar Land, TX, assistant principal Phil Morgante said that girls shouldn’t wear crop tops or tight clothing, because it is distracting to male students.
“Ladies, I know you’ve been working on your abs since the Olympics, right? But your shirts can’t be up here. It’s gotta cover the whole gut. So cover up,” Morgante said. The The Odyssey reports that the audio was recorded by a student and later posted to Soundcloud.
“It’s just kind of gross, because he teaches teenage girls,” student Piper Cotton said. “Like they can blame us for them being distracted during school hours. He insisted rape culture [is] on us.”
Em, a junior at Clements High School who asked ABC 13 not to publish her last name, said, “He made it seem like girls are just in school as a distraction for boys, when in reality, our education is just as important as theirs.”
Local news station KHOU also spoke to a female student named Nazakat Jilani who said she wasn’t put off by Morgante’s crop-top comment, but his assumption that those tops were a hindrance to learning were what caught her attention.
“He said, ‘Ladies, be careful with your tight shirts, because guys have it hard enough to study,'” she said. “That’s when I started laughing. I said, ‘This is a joke right?'”
According to a statement from the Fort Bend Independent School District, Morgante’s comments were supposed to be a joke, calling his remarks a “failed attempt at humor” that “should never have been made.”
The statement explained that Morgante’s comments were “inappropriate and offensive to students” and that “following concerns expressed by students, the Clements principal took prompt action to address the comments and apologized to the student body.”
Morgante’s apology was not made public, but in its statement, the Fort Bend ISD wrote that “this situation is being addressed, and appropriate actions will be taken.”
Students told KHOU that they didn’t feel Morgante deserved to lose his job. “I don’t think he should lose his job at all,” Jilani said, noting that she felt “pissed off” by the comments, but did feel they weren’t intended to be malicious. “I really do like Mr. Morgante as a principal,” she added. “He’s a great educator, he just made a mistake.”
Morgante didn’t respond to a request for comment by Refinery29 at press time.
Read the Fort Bend Independent School District’s full statement on Morgante’s comments, below:
During assemblies last week, when speaking about the dress code, a Clements High School administrator made comments that were inappropriate and offensive to students. These comments should not have been made, and do not represent the beliefs of Fort Bend ISD or the Clements administrative team or faculty. The comments were a failed attempt at humor and inappropriate.
Following concerns expressed by students, the Clements principal took prompt action to address the comments and apologized to the student body.
We have high expectations for both students and staff at Clements High School and throughout Fort Bend ISD. Our goal is to provide a safe, positive learning environment where all students feel supported and valued.
Please know this situation is being addressed, and appropriate actions will be taken.