- Jenna Miller
#exposechristianschools: A Hashtag in Over Its Head
Karen Pence recently returned to teaching art at a conservative high school in Washington D.C., with rules that many people find to be exclusionary. For instance, the school has a rule which bans students and employees from violating “the unique roles of male and female.”
Born of the mayhem that ensued was #exposechristianschools, first created and promoted by Chris Stroop, a journalist and self-proclaimed ex-evangelical. The hashtag was only further popularized by the Covington Catholic controversy when a video of students seemingly mocking a Native American veteran spread.
This hashtag brought forward very reasonable complaints. Many Twitter users brought up discriminatory and/or traumatic events in their lives, but the hashtag did not solve their problem. While they might have experienced these things at a Christian school, most users’ experiences do not directly correlate with the religious affiliation of their alma mater. Most experiences brought up under the tag, like issues dealing with dress codes and discrimination, could have happened anywhere. It is hardly relevant that they happened at a Christian school.
One user with the display name “Christian Nightmares” claimed her school’s dress code was unfair and targeted female students more than male students. An attached photo of the dress code showed a wide array of expectations for female students’ clothing. Some rules were harsher than others, like necklines only being allowed to reach a few inches below the collarbone. Generally speaking, complaints about dress codes are common among American high school students.
Some rules seen in the tweet were admittedly harsh but no worse than rules seen in most secular schools. That said, unfair dress codes are not a problem to be solely attributed to Christian schools. If these dress codes are truly discriminatory, it is a problem rooted deep in our culture. How we are often taught to view women can lead us to believe that women can be a distraction to boys if they are not modest enough. This popularized view of the female body has brought about generally heavy restrictions on women’s attire in their workplace or school. Whether or not this is a good thing is widely debated, but one thing is certain: Christian schools are not the only offender.
Many others shared stories of rules being enforced unfairly or teachers being generally unkind. All of these are justified complaints, however few of these tweets clearly explained how the school’s religious affiliation was relevant to the issue at hand.
Many people, like the user below, came forward with only good memories of their time at a Christian school.
"My Christian school encouraged me to investigate arts, athletics, service and academics
each as deeply as the next.
I went from drama practice to the track to the library, to class... And my teachers cheered me on with love and high expectations.
Another user wrote of the acceptance and kindness she learned to exhibit from her time in attendance. These people made it clear that not all Christian schools deserve to get slammed under this hashtag. The offenses mentioned in #ExposeChristianSchools tweets are not consistent throughout all Christian schools.
Whether or not the hashtag had a positive effect is widely debated, but by quickly scrolling through the tweets under it, one can easily surmise the issue at hand is much more complex than it seems. Not all bad experiences happen at Christian schools, but bad experiences in high schools do happen, and the issue at hand must be addressed.