Gender Neutral Dress Code Policy Change

Carley Parish

With a focus on gender neutrality and dress code the Wake County School Board is in the process of reviewing its policy regarding student attire.

Christine Kushner, a Wake County Board of Education member, emphasized the goals of taking the extensive series of regulations in the dress code to a straightforward expectation.

“Two fold– 1) to move away from punitive mind set where “dress code” was in Student Code of Conduct as punitive and “what not to wear” toward a proactive dress code that outlines expectations, “how to dress for school,” Kushner said in an email. “2) also the expectation of being gender neutral; the dress code should address clothing without specifying one gender over another.”

If approved, the new policy will be put in place by the 2019-20 school year.

“The policy has its guiding principle that students should dress as they would in a workplace, like they would for an after-school job. They would present themselves ready to work, just as they should be ready to learn and work in school,” Kushner said.

Another member of the board of education, Lindsay Mahaffey, shared her desire for education to be the main focus in schools.

Mahaffey said, “My personal goal in changing the dress code is making sure students stay in the classroom environment and having positive relationships with school personnel. Having to leave the classroom for a dress code violation, not only has an impact on teaching and learning, but affects the relationship a student has with their teacher or administrator.”