The controversy behind school dress codes

Across the country, school dress codes are very controversial. At some schools, students have fought against “sexist” dress codes, while others have followed the expectations without a fight. The rules vary depending on the school. There can be required school uniforms to ensure that a dress code will not be violated or take away valuable class time. For example, one school administration made an unfair claim that certain articles of girls’ attire should be prohibited because they “distract” boys.

At Black Hills, the dress code is very clear, but not always strictly enforced. The expectations are that a student’s dress does not lead to any disruptions. The code claims that a student cannot wear “revealing or provocative” clothes that call for “undue attention” such as “tops which are backless or expose bare midriff or excessive cleavage, sagging pants that fall below the hip bone, shorts/skirts with high slits or that expose more than half of the thigh, exposed undergarments, and tank tops with spaghetti straps.” One Black Hills senior when criticized for breaking the dress code was embarrassed in front of the whole class by her teacher and made to feel ashamed. In addition, a limit on ‘gang-related’ clothing, as well as clothing depicting lewd, sexually explicit, or indecent drug use. This prohibits students from supporting dangerous and inappropriate content. However, the issue of dress codes at Black Hills has not been a serious problem with much protest from those who have been told to change for either wearing revealing clothes or inappropriate content.

Although there is a dress code at Black Hills, it can be agreed that our school still is very lenient and allows students to express themselves through their clothes. However, it was a different story for Aniya Wolf, a Bishop McDevitt High School student in Pennsylvania. She bought a suit to wear to her high school prom because she felt more comfortable in pants than a dress. Days before the dance, Aniya received a last-minute email from her school demanding that all girls wear dresses to prom. When she showed up to the dance wearing the suit, the school threatened to call the police if she did not leave, all for breaking the dress code. Students should be allowed to dress in any way they feel comfortable and a school that takes that away from its students needs to consider the ways they are negatively affecting a student’s confidence, self-expression, and feeling of safety.

In conclusion, schools are professional environments and dress codes are designed to keep them that way. Students need to be focused on learning instead of the clothes people are wearing. However, at the same time, schools need to be open and accepting of students, especially when a student might not be dressing to their traditional gender roles. Dress codes are a matter of give and take, express yourself through your clothes but be professional at the same time.

By Jordan Tarrow

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