The Question of Dress Code Equality in Schools

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Dress Code Equality

What runs through your mind when you think of equality? Maybe you thought of racial desegregation, unisex bathrooms, voting rights, or maybe even equal pay but there are other things that could fit into this category. One of the biggest issues that concern many is the dress code violations that take place in schools that send their students home. Dress codes were made to ensure students, both boy and girl, would not go overboard with their dress attire and not distract their peers from learning. Since there is a combined dress code for both boys and girls, most of the uproar is caused by the fact that the rules are a bit more stringent for the girls. High school dress codes could be singling out girls by overly restricting clothes they can wear, not appreciating the LGBT community, and not educating the boys about desexualizing women.

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With school uniforms dating back to the 1950s, public schools always had a sharp eye out for the girls’ dress code. Shirts would cover almost the entire upper body which sometimes included the entire arm, while the lower body being covered with wool skirts or dresses had to be at least below the knee or longer. In 1996 after Former President Clinton’s State of the Union address, the reasoning behind having school dress codes became a more serious thing because he challenged public schools to enforce a school uniform policy. While having school uniforms kept administrators happy and most kids outraged, clothes started to evolve. Fortunately, there were schools that did not require school uniforms which allowed the students to express their individuality through clothing. Today there are thousands of clothing lines and brands for girls but school officials are trying to put a stop to the “outrageous” outfits. There are schools in the US that restrict clothing that expose the collarbone such as Woodford County High School in Kentucky. An eight-year-old girl was sent home because the color of her shirt was not dark enough. The absurdity continues when a high school student named Miranda Larkin who attends Oakleaf High School in Clay County, Florida was forced to wear what is called a “shame suit” which consists of a neon yellow shirt and red sweatpants that both read “DRESS CODE VIOLATION.” Miranda was forced to wear this attire because of her desire to wear a skirt that was almost knee length. Miranda was so upset she continued to cry and broke out in hives. On the other hand, when guys violate the dress code such as sagging or wearing a hat they are only told to pull up their pants and to take off their hats. One thing to think about is that out of all the dress code violations that have went viral or not, how many of those cases did you see boys violating the code?

High school is a place where most teens find out who they really are, and in some cases where boys are having a transitioning process. The transitioning process is when a boy or girl feels he or she is ready to be the opposite sex, during most transitioning processes include taking hormone treatment which can cause mood swings. There are a few rules that have been adopted by schools in acknowledgement to the LGBT community but not all rules have been made to point out the major issues in schools. With the transition process being a delicate time for the boys, deciding what they should or can wear to school is an even more stressful situation. Some high schools are against the boys wearing feminine clothes or make up because they claim it is a disruption of the classrooms. In 2009 at West High School in Columbus, Ohio, a male cheerleader was denied food in the lunch line because he wore a bow, in result the boys all wore bows in their hair and made a Twitter campaign called #BowsforBoys to show their support and to protest the discrimination. According to a recent study 19% of LGBT students were prevented from wearing clothes that were thought to be from another gender and that number was even higher for transgender students. As the boys are realizing who they really want to be and what kind of clothes they want to wear, school rules should not prohibit them from expressing themselves.

Lastly, the main reason why school dress codes are so restrictive is because the school officials do not want the girls distracting the boys with their bodies. Schools have classes for sexual education and sexual health, but none that teach boys how to desexualize and respect women. High school is where boys are at the peak of their hormonal changes and having girls cover up so much of their bodies just to keep from distracting the boys shows no fairness. With students being on their way into adulthood, many required classes do not always show students the life lessons that they need. It is senseless to require girl students to not wear spaghetti straps because the males will go crazy if they see bra straps or a glimpse of the shoulders. It seems apparent that boys do not have any self-control over themselves when they are in the classroom, and apparently they would much rather put the exposure of collarbones and shoulders over their education. If that seems to be the case, then maybe he should consider online school. So many girls are being sent home to change clothes or are suspended because they violated the dress code before are missing out on their education. Another reason for dress codes to be enforced is so the male teachers are not distracted. As a teacher your focus should be on teaching the students and making sure they are exceeding in class, not allowing a student’s outfit become a distraction in any way.

Distractions will only affect someone if they let it, and if school is important enough to someone then another student’s clothes should not bother them. Respecting people and their bodies should have been a lesson taught in the homes of the students, because many issues that students bring to school start at home. Too many times where female students are being blamed for distracting male students by having a curvaceous body or a sense of fashion where skin is being exposed. The adult world can get ugly and high school is supposed to be the place where students get a taste of it and the school should be helping them learn how to handle situations that they will face later on such as discrimination against the LGBT community and respecting a woman as a whole.

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