Public School Dress Code
The standard dress codes that are enforced by over half of the U.S public schools are unfair to both genders and LGBTQ students alike.
Dear Future President,
The standard dress codes that are enforced over half of the U.S public schools are unfair to
both genders and LGBTQ students alike. Dress code, though it may seem small, is actually the
background music to many public schools. Despite the bad lyrics it sends out, we continue to
listen to it, because it hasn’t been changed. I believe that the standard dress codes need to
be altered in order to be fair to all genders and other students attending public schools.
The concept of public school dress code is fairly new, and has only been around in the last
several decades. This shows that the rules have remained the same, since they haven’t been
around enough for people to feel the need to change them. Due to the lack of change, the
differences in girls and boys dress code has risen. For example, a recent study
showed that 200 high schoolers were given detention for dress code. At least 90% of those
students consisted of girls. This then poses the question, “Is it what the girl wears that is
inappropriate or is it the system that immediately makes her outfit inappropriate?”
The answer all has to do with a faculty member’s interpretation and subjectivity.
Calling someone out for breaking dress code all has to do with how the person is feeling that
day, or what they feel the need to change. For example, in the documentary “Shame”, a high
school boy wears soccer shorts that expose his knees. Despite how the dress code states that
showing your knees is inappropriate, the boy does not get in trouble. His girlfriend however
wears the exact same shorts, and she is the one dress coded. This comes to show that despite
what the dress code says, teachers and faculty members tend to target girls more than boys.
The common explanation for why a girl is dress coded is simply that they will “distract” their
male colleagues. Some may say that this statement is true, since girls bodies are naturally
distracting to boys causing them to not pay attention. They are wrong, due to the fact that girls
bodies are not the reason for why they might be distracted, but is actually the result of society’s
depiction of women, and how their bodies are over sexualized. For example, many schools
have banned articles of clothing such as leggings and yoga pants. The reason why rests
completely on the fact that a girl’s body is seen as distracting when wearing tight clothes or
pants that might expose her bottom. This, and many other rules send bad messages to younger
girls telling them that their bodies are something to feel ashamed of just because it’s seen a
certain way in our society. This can eventually lead to issues such as sexual harassment, and
even rape due to the power that boys feel that they have over what a girl wears.
Another example, is that of the LGBTQ community and how dress code may limit how they
choose to express themselves. For example, if a transgender boy decides to wear an outfit that
is commonly female he could possibly be suspended or even taken out of the yearbook, despite
following the same requirements for girls. This shows that the dress code system is subjective
and is not gender-centric when it comes to LGBTQ students. Based on a recent study by
GLSEN, 19% of LGBTQ students were told not to wear clothes outside of their gender, while a
shocking 32% of transgender students were criticized for wearing clothes outside of their legal
sex. This again calls to attention the lack of change among dress codes that has affected the
new and diverse generation of students.
Some ways that the dress code can be altered is to let the actual students have a say. A
set of clothing rules created by adults who grew up in a world where these things weren’t seen
as unfair is not the way to go about things. Instead, we need to include students of all genders,
race, and background in order to create a dress code that is equal. After all, they are the ones
wearing the clothes! Another change is that of not using the excuse,”It will distract the boys.”
By not using this, boys will no longer feel as if they can’t control themselves, and girls won’t be
taught that their bodies are a distraction to everyone around them.
In conclusion, I hope you take my ideas into account, and see how changing something as
small as a dress code could help prevent future social issues from arising in our country.