I went to a private Christian Lutheran school from grades Kindergarten to 8th grade. During these years I had a very strict dress code to follow, which was understandable. I had to wear either long pants (no blue jeans), shorts below the knee, and a polo shirt to school everyday. I never broke the dress code because I never felt the need to since boys and girls both followed them. Then I got to a public High School. Going to a public school was so new to me, I felt like I had this new found freedom. I met so many people from different backgrounds, experienced what cliques were, I also met some of my best friends at my public High School. Another aspect of High School I experienced was their dress code. I came to school one day in a simple tank top and shorts, it was a very hot day in Southern California. I was on my way to class and a security guard comes up to me and asks me to change. I was honestly appalled. They made me miss class, go to the office and sit there until my mom had to come (from work) and bring me a t-shirt. Was my education honestly less important than my shoulders distracting men or boys from my school?
There has been tremendous coverage on this issue especially on social media. Girls are protesting these dress code rules, and believe that there should be gender- equal dress codes. There is also a twitter hashtag movement “#IAMMORETHANADISTRACTION”, that represents the unfair reasoning for dress codes. According to the article, “Student protests growing over gender-equal dress codes” by Gabrielle Sorto from CNN, Nineteen percent of the 7,800 students surveyed
in middle and high schools across the country said they were prevented from wearing clothing deemed “inappropriate” based on their gender, according to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s 2013 National School Climate Survey. What does an “inappropriate” outfit even mean for a middle school child. And what does it teach that child when they get kicked out class at such a young age for a clothing item, that their parents allowed them to leave the house in? According to Gabrielle Sorto, “last year, more than 200 students on New York’s Staten Island — almost all of them female — got detentions over dress code infractions.” These schools are essentially punishing their female students because they either A) do not want to be sweating and miserable in 90 degree weather, or B) expressing their identity. According to the article, “Oklahoma student Rose Lynn scribbled on her shirt what a school administrator told her when she was sent home for violating dress code. “It doesn’t cover your crotch,” her shirt read. “You’ll distract the boys.” Women do not dress for boys first of all, and we should be teaching these boys not to degrade women or sexualize women based on their clothing, and to respect women’s boundaries, instead of teaching young girls that we must cover up for men. These young girls lose their sense of respect and self expression every time they get punished and shamed for simply wearing a comfortable outfit. Teaching girls to cover up their bodies just adds to their insecurities they have at that age. Some may say that a dress code helps a student focus on their academics and create a team spirit. The negative definitely outweighs the positives in this issue, it affects student’s rights as individuals and discriminate against the transgender youth.
Young girls should not have to cover themselves up because their bodies are a “distraction” to boys on campus, boys should be taught to respect a women’s boundaries instead. According to the article, “Miyasato said the students noticed classmates being singled out for their clothing, and they feel that enforcement of the policy causes a disruption in the students’ education. “The girls that organized it care less about the actual code than the sexism inherent in the code,” he said. The issue is not simply because these girl want to wear shorts, it is because the way they enforce these dress codes are sexist. These young girls become sexualized when they are shamed and punished for wearing clothing deemed “inappropriate”. Citrus High School student Mari Tufts, 17, conducted an experiment to find out if girls’ clothing is truly a distraction to their male counterparts. The Inverness, Florida, student won a place at the Florida State Science and Engineering Fair, where she’ll also share her findings.
While 15 boys completed multiplication tables, Tufts showed them 26 different pictures of girls in different outfits and timed how long they were “distracted” by the pictures.“I did it so people will start to see that girls are not a distraction and to stop teaching young men that it is an acceptable excuse to be distracted from their education,” Tufts said.”I found there was no correlation between any of the photos that were in dress code or out of dress code. So I proved clothes that were dress code violations were no more distracting” than clothes that conformed to the dress code, she said of her science project. This study puts the whole “it is a distraction to boys” to rest. When students are sent home or taken away from their education simply because of their clothes it has a highly negative impact on the students. These protests and twitter movements are a call to action for our principals,teachers, and school faculty members. Female students should not be shamed for being comfortable in their own skin. When students are shamed for their clothing it brings down their self esteem and self respect. What should be taught to these students are to respect female boundaries, and not to sexualize women based on their clothing. Students need to be taught respect, and not to hide their bodies but to love them. Growing up in your highs schools are one of the toughest places to be, emotionally and physically. We are getting adjusted to our new bodies and we need to learn to be comfortable in them. That can not happen though if we are taught to hide our bodies and be ashamed of our bodies when we show them off.
Sorto, Gabrielle. “Gender-equal Dress Codes: Students Call for Fairness.” CNN. Cable
News Network. Web. 12 May 2016.