Jonathan Lillis’s 6-year-old daughter’s style was already important to her, not just because of how her clothes made her look, but because of how they made her feel.
Unfortunately, her clothes were what caused her to be removed from her class at Harriet Treem Elementary School in Las Vegas, according to KRON 4.Screenshot/KRON 4
Lillis’s daughter is on the autism spectrum. He explained that she puts extra care into picking which outfit she will put on every day as her clothing is a helpful way to start conversations with other people. Lillis said:
“She’s a perfectionist with her clothes.”
“Having autism, it’s hard enough for her to try to fit in anyway, and this was the first year they were trying to mainstream her a little bit.”
But the comforting feeling was shattered when she was forced to cover up the dress she had picked out. She came home in tears, wearing her gym uniform over her clothes. The father was heartbroken when she told him that she thought she looked “ugly.”
Lillis quickly realized how upsetting the moment was for his daughter as he tried to calm her down. He described that the one thing that gave her confidence in herself was suddenly turned against her:
“My daughter said, ‘They made me look ugly.’ I told her, ‘No you’re not ugly. You’ll never be ugly. You’re beautiful.’”
Lillis, who considers himself conservative when it comes to clothing, did not see anything wrong with the dress.Screenshot/KRON 4
And he is not happy with the way the school handled the incident:
“They pulled her out of class and took her up to the office. You shouldn’t be doing that to any kid, especially a special needs child like my daughter with autism. You can’t just do that with these kids.”
The next day did not go smoothly for the 6-year-old or her parents.
She got off to rough start before she even left for school, fighting her way through choosing what to wear and feeling nervous about going back to her school after being singled out.
“It’s hard for her because she stands out enough as it is, and something like this happens, and it makes her stand out that much more.”
The father is still looking for answers about why his daughter’s dress became a target of the school’s dress code:
“I’m a pretty conservative dad so I’m like all dresses have to cover the knees. I didn’t see anything inappropriate with this [dress], and I don’t have anything from the school that tells me that, for whatever reason, this dress is not okay for school.”
The school district responded in a statement saying that parents are sent dress code guidelines early in the school year. Lillis, however, claims his family has not received anything of such nature.