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Do School Dress Codes Discriminate Against Women?

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Do School Dress Codes Discriminate Against Women?

Faith Fayman, Staff Writer

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The dress code has always been a controversial and sensitive topic in high schools across the nation and it is no different at La Jolla Country Day, where the dress code has gone through many developments and is currently the center of discussion. After a fellow student felt that our school’s dress code was targeting women, we ended up changing the dress code from a more strict conduct to a more lenient one. However, there has been a discussion recently about changing the dress code again. Before any of this change happens, it is important to note other schools’ dress codes in comparison with ours to see if in fact our school, and possibly other schools, discriminate against girls.

First, it is important to examine our current dress code. The upper school students’ dress code is definitely more flexible than other grades. For middle school students, it is more strict with specific rules such as “tank tops must have two separate straps that go over both shoulders, and each strap is the width of at least two fingers.” (LJCDS student handbook) Shirts must “cover midriff area at all times including sitting, standing or with arms extended above one’s head. Shirts cover more than half the back and aren’t low-cut in the front.” As for the ratio between rules for girls and rules for boys, only three of the eight are girl-specific. For the upper school, the dress code asks that female students not wear clothing that exposes undergarments, bust, midriff, and that skirts and shorts shouldn’t be too short. Two rules are gender specific towards women and the rest are towards both men and women. The school also states that how you dress “reflects students’ self-respect and values as individuals and as a community.”

Other schools have an even stricter dress code. The administrations have been sending girls home for exposing their shoulders, bra straps, and even collar bones. There have been many extreme cases across the country that are focused on women. At Marcus High School in Flower Mound, Texas, the principle stated that “female students should not show their bodies because it will distract the male students from their studies.” (1) According to Neatoday.org, at East Longmeadow High School in Massachusetts, six out of the nine dress code regulations target females. There are many other examples of schools targeting female students, and there have been cases of it at La Jolla Country Day School. After interviewing lifer Anna Shaul, she talked about the instances of sexism within the school’s dress code. She said that “in middle school teachers would tell us that we weren’t allowed to wear tank tops because it would be too distracting”. She also informed me that while in one of her classes, the teacher told her she was breaking dress code by “telling [her] [her] shirt is see-through in the middle of class” which “is far more disruptive and humiliating than what [she] was wearing.”

Knowing whether or not the dress code is targeting women has been an ongoing debate and will continue to be discussed amongst school boards across the country.

 

Sources:

  1. https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2018/09/05/do-school-dress-codes-discrimate-against-girls.html
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Do School Dress Codes Discriminate Against Women?