I'm all for teaching kids how to dress appropriately for the classroom, but too often it seems that dress code violations and how they're handled are awfully gender-biased. As this sign points out, it's important to consider the message we're sending to students when enforcing these rules.
Now don't get me wrong — there are definitely some outfits that aren't appropriate for school. But what's telling is how some schools are choosing to enforce their dress code policies for girls — many opting to require dress code violators to wear oversized shirts as punishment. One Florida school has even gone so far as to have students wear a yellow "dress code violation" shirt and sweatpants if they break dress code. Personally, I don't think shame is the best educational tool. Not to mention: A giant bright-yellow shirt sounds kinda "distracting"...
Other schools have banned leggings, skinny jeans, and yoga pants. So now it's not just about showing too much skin. Even the shape of a girl's body is "distracting." And if you think about it, not only are these policies unfairly targeted toward girls, they're also demeaning to male students. Yes, boys have sexual urges, but they're not wild animals that need to be locked up for their own safety and the protection of others. Let's give everyone a little more credit here, shall we?
While some students have started petitions and staged demonstrations to protest these strict dress codes, others have turned to social media, using the hashtag #IAmMoreThanADistraction to share their dress code stories and encourage others to think critically about the message these policies send. Yes, students need to dress appropriately for school, but it's important to set and enforce these standards in ways that don't punish female students for their bodies or suggest that the learning environment will be disrupted because of them.