Recent incidents have renewed the debate over school dress codes. While codes may be necessary, students should have a voice in what they’re allowed to wear.
William S. Hart High School has banned showing undergarment straps because a boy cut off the straps of a girl’s bra strap. In 2014, a student protest at Rancho Pico Junior High led to a rewrite of that school’s code. In general, dress codes are especially frustrating for girls because they are often held to stricter standards than boys.
Students have voiced their opinions on dress codes, taking to social media to depict the rules as unfair.
On Twitter, @ginagoodall wrote, ”#IfAnythingSchoolTaughtMe [sic] it’s that dress code [sic] is more important that education.”
User @itslayshaxx said, “Nothings [sic] more stressful than going back to school shopping when you have a dress code…”
Tina Hwang, a former Rancho Pico Junior High student, gave her perspective on the dress code to JSR.
“I got ‘dress coded’ once in 7th grade. There was a rip in my jeans above my thumb, but it didn’t show any skin,” she said.
According to Hwang, “School is a learning environment and it doesn’t matter what you wear. Also, the school said showing shoulders will be distracting to the boys but I don’t know why they’re using that reason as an excuse.”
At Rio Norte Junior High, the perception that the dress code is applied arbitrarily has led students to think there is favoritism involved.
“I was wearing a pair of shorts one day, following the dress code, [that were] longer than the length of my fingers,” said Jamie Chung, a former student at the school.
She continued, “Mrs. Dos, the vice principal, came over to my lunch table and told me to stand up and put my arms down, to check if I was following the rules. Seeing that the shorts were longer than my fingers, she dismissed me, but told me to never wear the pants again.”
However, Chung told JSR that she remembers another situation in which Mrs. Dos let a student “pass” even though she admitted that the student was violating the code.
While some clothing may be genuinely inappropriate, current dress codes are problematic because they are not enforced uniformly and because they can be constructed in a way that makes it hard for students to choose clothing for school. Moving forward, schools should involve the students in deciding what to wear.
Having good communication between the staff and the students can result in compromise and satisfaction from both sides.
Editor’s Note: The author sent several emails to staff members at the mentioned middle schools, asking for comments, but received no reply.