With #dresscoded and #Imnotadistraction, school dress codes are coming under fire from students who say these policies can be sexist and racist. But many argue strict dress codes are necessary for a safe learning environment. So, how should schools decide on dress code policies?
TEACHERS: Get your students in the discussion on KQED Learn, a safe place for middle and high school students to investigate controversial topics and share their voices. https://learn.kqed.org/topics/27
What are school dress codes?
School dress codes are policies that mandate how students should dress in school. They vary from school to school, district to district.
Are school dress codes sexist?
Many people feel that some school dress code policies unfairly target women since most of the items that are banned are items that women would wear, like certain types of skirts and tops. Many also argue that school dress codes can be unfairly enforced based on body type, where more developed women or heavier women are punished more frequently compared to less developed or thinner women. Critics say that this sends the wrong message to young women about their bodies and contributes to the sexualization of young women.
Are school dress codes racist?
Many people feel that some school dress code policies unfairly target people of color by banning things that may wear like durags, hair wraps, braids, and dreadlocks. Critics argue this criminalizes culture, and can lead to a system where students of color are getting disciplined more for dress code violations.
What are advantages of dress codes?
Many proponents of dress codes feel that dress codes contribute to a safe learning environment. Dress codes that prohibit gang related clothing or clothing that others may find offensive or distracting helps create an environment where students can focus on their education rather than distracting or dangerous clothes. Many also feel that strict dress codes help prepare students for work life after school, since many jobs require employees to dress a certain way.