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  • Zaheen Ali

“I Got Dress Coded Again!”

Rules governing what children may and cannot wear to school are known as school dress codes. They are widespread in many American schools, but they are also contentious and sometimes unjust. The equality, safety, and academic performance of children, particularly those from marginalized groups, may be negatively impacted by clothing regulations at schools, according to research from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

In the US, there are several schools with dress codes. More than 40% (42.6%) of students indicated to the National Centre for Education Statistics (NCES) that their schools had clothing codes during the 2017–2018 academic year. Also, 61.6% of middle schools in the US said they have severe clothing requirements for pupils. Moreover, 56% of high schools claimed that pupils had tight clothing codes.

At certain schools, students must wear uniforms regardless of the dress code. In the US, around 1 in 5 public schools have uniform regulations. In comparison to senior institutions, uniforms are typically more prevalent at elementary schools.

School districts frequently use clothing regulations as a means of fostering order, discipline, and academic achievement. Yet, the GAO research discovered that many clothing rules have components that might reduce the fairness and safety of the learning environment for students.

Anything a girl wears is "too distracting for the boys." This is outrageous. The following are some issues with clothing regulations at schools:

  • Students of color are disproportionately impacted by severe clothing regulations since they attend schools with them more frequently than white pupils. These students may be subject to further disciplinary measures, including even expulsion from class, for violating clothing regulations, which can negatively affect their academic performance and self-esteem.

  • They discriminate against students from certain ethnicities and religions, for example, who could have distinct attire preferences or needs depending on their identification. For instance, Muslim girls may not be allowed to wear hijabs or other head coverings, depending on the dress code.

  • They reinforce sexist, racist, and classist beliefs and social practices that are discriminatory and harassing. For example, some dress rules could forbid girls from wearing apparel that is thought to be overly exposing, distracting, or improper such as short skirts, tights, or spaghetti straps. This may imply that females are in charge of guys' attention or behavior, as well as that their bodies are sexualized or objectified.

  • They restrict kids' ability to express themselves and be creative, which may harm their growth and well-being. Students may convey their personalities, interests, ideals, and moods via their apparel. Clothing regulations may limit their options and decrease their sense of confidence or comfort at school.

Some schools and districts have decided to revise or eliminate their dress codes in response to student protests, lawsuits, or research findings. Some of the alternatives to school dress codes are:

  • Adopting more adaptable and welcoming dress codes that honor students' individuality and diversity For instance, some schools have gender-neutral dress codes that do not distinguish between boys and girls or permit students to dress in ways that represent their cultural or religious identities.

  • Putting more emphasis on education than enforcing dress codes. For instance, some educational institutions have put in place programs that instruct students about body positivity, diversity, and consent. These programs can support students' growth in empathy and critical thinking.

  • Providing direction and assistance to students who require help with clothing. For instance, some schools have established clothing closets or donation drives that provide students who cannot afford or access appropriate clothing with free or inexpensive clothing options. These programs can be useful. Students feel more comfortable and prepared for school.

School dress codes in the US can negatively impact equity, safety, and learning, particularly for marginalized groups. Schools should reconsider dress code policies and adopt alternatives that respect diversity and expression. This must end immediately! We are subject to a dress code because of what we are wearing. Men don't necessarily have a chance just because a female is wearing something short at school or elsewhere.


Works cited:

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