September 1, 2016
Alisa, a seventh-grader, told a story of a friend who was pulled aside one day for wearing a skirt deemed to be too short. The friend sat in the principal’s office for hours while the staff tried to get ahold of her parents. She missed important classwork, and worse yet, felt humiliated by the ordeal.
“The only reason I go to school is to get my education,” Alisa told the board. “When I get dressed in the morning, my intention is not to provoke or be sexualized. My intention is to feel comfortable in my own skin.”
Sophia, also in seventh grade at the time, spoke last. “My problem with the dress code is that 100% of the students that get sent home are female. … In a way, you’re telling [a girl] that boys are more entitled to their education than she is. And I don’t think that’s acceptable.”
They were absolutely right. Because if you’re a preteen or teenage girl in America, you can get a dress code violation for almost anything: showing your midriff, shoulder, collarbone, leg, bra strap, or, in some cases, for just wearing something as harmless as spaghetti straps.
Girls who violate their schools’ dress codes are accused of being distractions and are often humiliated in front of their classmates.
They’re then either sent home to change (missing valuable class time) or forced to cover up with “shame clothes,” like old sweatpants that have been lying around the guidance counselor’s office for who knows how long.
This has been a problem for years, and a particularly frustrating one to solve. Almost everyone agrees schools need some kind of dress code, but almost no one can agree on what that should look like.