School Dress Code Discrimination

Marissa Robinson, Author

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Dress codes have been implemented into the American public-school systems since 1969. For a little over 40 years, school dress codes have been impacting young children, especially girls.  

The 1960s and 1970s brought lots of confrontation around girls wearing miniskirts and guys having long hair. But with each new generation, styles and trends are often at odds with the standard traditions most are used to.  

Dress codes have been modified by society. Therefore, choice of clothing should be an expression of yourself, no matter what society thinks. 

Public schools are supposed to be a place where you can be yourself, but of course with some limitations.  

School dress codes seem to place the focus towards girls’ bodies, normally starting around middle school.  At this time, middle schoolers are going through puberty and they may already feel awkward about their bodies. Girls are going to be targeted more often by teachers because they may have curves or show cleavage.  

Middle school dress codes seem to be stricter compared to that of a high school dress code. But while high school dress codes may not be as strict, some girls feel just as targeted. 

Schools across the country have made national news for the ways they choose to enforce their dress code. Female students have been asked to cover holes their jeans with duct tape and have been sent to the principal’s office for not wearing a bra. 

Everyone’s bodies are different, but the way the schools enforce the policies shouldn’t differ. At East Longmeadow High School, Massachusetts, six out of the nine dress code regulations targeted female students. The dress code had not been updated since the 1990s. 

Along with females being targeted, minority students are more likely to be singled out for dress code violations than other students. Because of some schools having strict dress codes, minority students feel like they don’t have a place to represent their culture by wearing certain items of clothing that represent them. 

Some may argue that school dress codes are preparing students for a workplace environment, but not every student is going to work in a professional setting where there is a dress code.  

Even though many adults are mixed on the opinion, some parents worry about the message that schools are trying to convey to female studentsthe message that their bodies are “a distraction.” 

If schools are going to have a dress code, they should utilize it fairly and not target students. Another important aspect is for schools to update their dress code’s rules so that it applies to modern society. 

Girls shouldn’t feel ashamed of their bodies just because they’re wearing ripped jeans or a tank top. Girls shouldn’t have to feel like their body is inappropriate for school just because they’re curvy or built differently from the boys. The clothes someone chooses to wear doesn’t determine who they are or how they should feel about their bodies.