Kambrya College students hit back at short-skirt ban in powerful speech

Student's powerful speech on sexism

A speech by a year 9 student on a short skit ban has gone viral.

The crumpled piece of paper held up to the camera captured the schoolgirl's rage perfectly.

"The length of my skirt or dress does not matter," it read.

What happened next in the textile class at Kambrya College is being celebrated as the perfect response to being slut-shamed.

Teachers say they are not equipped to recognise and respond to the behaviours they are seeing.
Teachers say they are not equipped to recognise and respond to the behaviours they are seeing. Photo: AFR

Year 9 student Faith Sobotker​ flicked back her hair, looked directly into the camera on her friend's phone and delivered a powerful speech.

"My self respect is doing what makes me happy," she shouted from the middle of the classroom in a video that has been viewed thousands of times on her Facebook page. 

"You can't tell me what ladylike is because we don't live in the '50s any more. I am looking for equality."

Faith made the speech on Thursday afternoon, just hours after girls at the state school in Melbourne's south-east were hauled into an assembly and told to stop wearing short skirts, make-up, and sending "sexy selfies". They were allegedly told that they would lose respect and integrity if their skirts didn't touch their knees, and boys would be distracted by their legs.

The school had been named on a pornographic website earlier this week, and the girls felt as though they were being blamed for the poor behaviour of men.

"I am looking forward to being able to show off my body without being sexualised," Faith said.


"I am 15 years old. You do not get to sexualise me like that, you do not get to tell me that my body is sacred, because it isn't."

The proud feminist spoke about her body, getting her period and being pestered by men, and her hopes.

"I do not want these girls to be growing up in a society where they believe they have to be a certain way ... they can be whoever they want to be."

Faith told Fairfax Media that she felt passionate about gender equality and was sick of seeing young people sexualised. She said she got her first taste of public speaking when she narrated a play at her church. 

On Friday, a parent at the school, Catherine Manning said she was "mortified" by the message the school had sent young girls. "Stop letting boys off the hook for their appalling behaviour," she said. Ms Manning accused the school of "slut-shaming".

"It should be about the choices those boys make and we should be encouraging these girls to be who they are without being shamed," she said. 

The Berwick school recently featured in the ABC documentary Revolution School, which documented its transformation from a low-ranking to high-performing school.