oh no! Someone’s shoulder’s are showing: School Dress Code

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Students always ask themselves, “why is school so hard?” Is it because of the grading system? Attendance? Homework? Or more likely, is it the way kids are dressed? This is exactly why we have a dress code.

As the weather is getting warmer, the administration is trying to enforce the dress code more. In order to do so, they sent out an email regarding some policies from the District’s dress code. For example, section 1.2 states, “Student clothing and accessories must not present a health or safety hazard or distraction, which would disrupt the educational mission.”

The district defines disruption as “reactions by other individuals to the clothing or adornment, which causes the teacher/administrator to lose the attention of students, to modify or cease instructional activities, or deal with student confrontations or complaints”(1.2). This description leaves much room for interpretation on part of the administration who could in turn dress code any student.

One problem a lot of people have with the dress code is that it’s based on everyone’s own morals. For example, section 1.3 of the dress code states, “Dress code standards prohibit: immodest or suggestive clothing; apparel advocating inappropriate behavior or language.” But what is immodest or suggestive clothing? What is inappropriate behavior or language? Who then defines what?

The examples they use for immodest are: bare midriffs, spaghetti straps, and tank shirts. Though it is the rule, this aggravates a lot of students because they believe that since it’s 70-80 degrees outside they should be allowed to have their shoulders showing since every human has shoulders. 

One aspect that bothers both students and parents is that students are expected to change in front of each other in the locker room, but can’t have shoulders or midriffs exposed during class hours. Some administration argues that the reason for this is that boys will be distracted in class, but given that not every girl likes boys or vice versa, changing in front of each other in the locker room is essentially the same thing.

However, some argue that the dress code was put in place to steer away from distractions. If a student is showing excessive cleavage, it could draw the attention of the boys away from the teacher and towards the student. So, having a dress code enforced can make sure students are more engaged during class.

“It’s scary that my girls are expected to change in front of each other in the locker room when sexual orientation is all up in the air nowadays. It’s unbelievable and disrespectful to force the children into revealing themselves in the locker room when they’re not allowed to wear what they want in the classrooms. It’s ridiculous,” says Sandy Smith, guardian of Samantha Herron, junior here at Hillcrest.

In the Supreme Court case Tinker v. Des Moines School District the court ruled, “In order to justify the suppression of speech, the school officials must be able to prove that the conduct in question would “materially and substantially interfere” with the operation of the school.” This case was fighting for the right of students to express and protest through their clothing.

Due to this case, students were reassured of their First Amendment right to freedom of speech. Back in 1963, the Supreme Court ruled on our freedom of expression in our wardrobe at school, it’s 2018 and we’re still facing the same issue. Students today are just asking to wear whatever is comfortable for them while defining and expressing themselves.

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