Emma’s Dilemma

Dress code restrictions limit free expression

Emma Lewis, Staff Reporter

Five minutes before heading on stage for their pivotal middle school graduation, four teenage girls were stopped because their shoulders were “distracting.”

These girls were moments away from walking in front of their families who, by the way, previously approved of their daughter’s clothing. When they were pulled aside by the assistant principal, they were each instructed to put on a sweater, but no one had brought one on this hot August day, there was nothing they could do.

This type of situation occurs throughout the four stressful years of high school as well. In summer when the style is shorts and tank tops, girls still are punished for trying to stay cool.

According to a July 13, 2015 article on Huffington Post “Dress Codes: Myth versus Fact,” taking students’ class time because of the clothes they wear is not only possibly a violation of Title IX, which says that students can’t be denied participation in class based on their gender, but is also unfair.

By missing class time to sit in the office waiting to change clothes, kids could be missing important information from their teachers.

There are so many standards for how to act, dress and even look. In many schools, shoulders must be covered, specific lengths of clothes have to be worn and ‘tight’ pants require long shirts.

In a June 23, 2016 article on Niche.com “Dress Codes Growing in Style at U.S. Schools,” dress-code rules have increased in U.S. public schools by 21 percent from 2000-2013.

There are some dress code rules that I can see are reasonable, and need to be in place so that students aren’t showing up to school half-dressed. I do approve of the prohibited “spaghetti straps,” but there are teachers who discriminatively dress-code students wearing tank-tops that do not have that type of strap.

When picking out what to wear to school in the morning, girls shouldn’t have to first think “will this be distracting to others?” It should be their decision what to put on their body, not a teacher’s choice. Often, girls are dress-coded based on a teacher’s personal beliefs. Dress code rules need to be more consistent when put in place. One girl’s arms might be longer than another’s, but she’s the one that gets called out for the exact same pair of shorts.

Our school system needs to think about how they are causing boys and girls alike to view women based on the discriminating dress-code.