By Amanda Sames
In the beginning of the school year, a presentation is given to the students about school policies, rules and regulations, and the like. The administration also talks about the dress code in the assembly, whether is has changed or not. However, when the topic came up, one assistant
principal said, “This one is for the ladies,” causing a small uproar from Juniors and Seniors seated across the auditorium. “Is there a slide for the boys, then?” one student dared to call out. Although her statement caused laughter and applause, a question is brought up on the issue: is the dress code necessary or unjust?
The Glenelg dress code states clothing that is not allowed in the students agenda book. In the book, it defines clothing that is a violation as “disruptive, provocative, and/or dangerous…” and therefore “interferes with learning…” Clothing that falls under this category includes short shorts, short dresses, short skirts, backless tops, tube tops, halters, strapless tops, tops with spaghetti straps, shirts that reveal cleavage, visible undergarments, head coverings (except for religious purposes), and finally, sunglasses. As one can tell, this is an extensive list of very specific items. There also seems to be a trend in the type of restricted clothing, which will be discussed later in the article.
The agenda book also states that this policy is enforced in order to help students develop “proper habits of dress and grooming” as well as maintain an appropriate learning environment for students throughout the school. One would think, however, since the students are already in high school, they should already be able to dress themselves without an adult’s assistance or regulation.
Despite this, if so much as a bare shoulder, stomach skin, or a bra strap is shown, students are given a referral, a phone call home, and must change their clothing into something more appropriate. Students may have a jacket to cover up, but if they do not, then a t-shirt from the nurse or another teacher might be provided. More than before, the dress code is being strictly reinforced rather than looked over by the administration. This was told to the students at the beginning-of-the-year assembly for each grade.
The school administration believes that the dress code should be enforced in order to maintain a safe learning environment. Students should dress appropriately, not exposing inappropriate body parts or having paraphernalia that supports drugs and alcohol. Inappropriate clothing also supposedly distracts the students and interrupts their learning process. The administration wants to prevent this problem by having the dress code. The way people dress in school does need to be regulated, as school is a professional environment and students need to learn and focus on their work. Although it can be helpful, the dress code can still prove to be a problem, especially for students.
This problem at hand can extend to a bigger, more moral, problem. The Glenelg Dress Code is defined above, but one can tell that the majority of the restricted items are targeted towards the female population of the students. There are barely any restrictions for males, and if there is, those restrictions are not explicitly stated or obvious in the dress code policy. Because of this, the dress code becomes borderline sexist. Unfortunately, in this type of society, females of all ages are sexualized and objectified. This fact is only being reinforced by how the dress code targets girls, as well as how strictly the code is being enforced.
The dress code is not fairly enforced in multiple ways. First, it is not fairly enforced between males and females, creating double standards. The male students do not get dress coded for their violations as much as females do. The administration pays more attention to what female students are wearing than what male students wear. Also, because exposed shoulders are deemed inappropriate, Senior Audrey Lin states, “If guys were to show their shoulders, it would not be such a big deal.” When male students wear muscle tanks, for example, one is able to see through the side of the shirt. However, they are not given so much as a second glance. Second, there are many students in the school who wear clothing that is considered a violation but “do not get noticed or dress-coded,” says Andrew Meier, another Senior at Glenelg. Although there are many students to keep track of, if the administration wants to enforce the code more strictly and punish people for the violations, then they need to practice what they preach and apply the policy to all students.
Furthermore, if high school students are expected to know how to dress, then they should also be expected to be able to act appropriately in school towards their peers. Audrey Lin bitterly says, “If you can’t control yourself around someone so much that it inhibits your learning, then that is your problem, not mine.” Students should be expected to control themselves, as they are also expected to be more mature at this age. If not, then the person wearing the clothes should not be the one punished, as they are not actually harming anyone.
Many students believe that it is up to the person what they decide to wear, as it is an expression of their personality and a practice of freedom. The dress code can be seen as unfair in this way, also.
If a dress code is necessary in school, then the code should be revised so it is not a problem. The policy is targeted towards girls and barely includes boys, so that aspect of the policy could be revised in order to be more equal. In regard to enforcing the dress code, Andrew Meier says, “If someone complains, then actions should be taken. If not, then there should not be punishment.”
In reality, what students wear should not be much of a problem, but has proven to be a problem across the nation.