Everyday students at Nease High school are being dress coded for what they show up to school wearing, most of which are girls. There has been a long debate on whether dress code should be enforced in schools. Dress code was first enforced in schools in the United States in 1969 because of the outcome of the “Tinker vs. Des Moines” case in which high school students were wearing black armbands to school to protest the Vietnam War. Since then it has spread all over the U.S., reaching almost every high school. To get a taste of what Nease students think of dress code, I put a poll on Instagram with the question “Should there be an enforced dress code in high schools?”. 73% of students at Nease voted “No”, while 27% voted “Yes”. I then asked for the people who voted “Yes” to tell me why they chose it, since the majority ruled “No”. A student responded, saying “If there weren’t any boundaries students could wear anything they wanted even if it was inappropriate as a whole.” They asked to be kept anonymous.
It has been brought up many times that dress code is often sexist and gender specific. Students have been told (especially girls), that dress code is in place so that other students won’t get distracted during class. In middle school, other female students and I were told that we were not allowed to wear tank tops to school because boys could find it “distracting”. Girls should not be shamed for what they are wearing, and if boys are actually getting distracted like we have been told, they should be taught to respect girls. At Nease, my friends and I have observed that sometimes a guy is wearing shorts that are more than four inches above their knee, but when a girl is wearing a skirt or dress the same length, she gets dress coded and the boy gets to continue on with his day. Boys are often overlooked when it comes to dress code not because they follow it more, but because there are less rules that apply to them. When 10th grader Julian Dirani was asked “Do you think that the dress code at Nease is enforced the same for boys as it is for girls?” he responded, “No. I feel that they are a lot harsher on the girls than on the boys, and not only are they harsher but there are more rules enforced on them than on boys.” He also added that “ I would definitely allow more freedom and expression to take place and not try to limit girls to a certain standard.” Women have faced objectification of their bodies for years and getting dress coded because you’re told you are distracting another boy in class certainly doesn’t help.
Nease should also take into consideration the fact that everyone’s body is different. If you put the same pair of shorts on a girl who is 4’11 and a girl who is 5’7, the length will be different on their legs. 10th grader Joli Saunders agrees, saying that “There should be less strict regulations because not everyone has the same body.” She also agrees that we should be able to explain ourselves if dress coded. Sometimes we can’t help the fact that our shirt shows our midriff when our arms are raised or when our dress or skirt lifts up a little bit when we are walking around school with our backpacks on.
Another reason that Nease’s dress code should be re-evaluated is the fact that we attend an outdoor school in Florida. All students have to be outside to walk to classes, wearing pants in 90 degree weather is not ideal, and if you show up to class sweaty it can be embarrassing. 9th grader Izzy Wheeler said that “we should be able to wear athletic shorts” for those reasons.
Mental health and self-confidence is often very low in high school students, and schools are always trying to give us resources to help. If a student with low self esteem comes to school in an outfit that they like, then gets to class and gets dress coded for a small problem, how do you think it would make that person feel? Students can feel humiliated when getting dress coded in front of their whole class. It also takes away from class time. A student might miss some very important information because they are being sent to the dean’s office to get new clothes. Having to walk around school for the rest of the day in gym clothes can be very embarrassing for the student, and may cause their self-confidence to deteriorate.
Women have fought for years for equality yet we are still not treated the same as boys in school when it comes to what we wear. All we ask is that the Nease dress code gets reviewed and possibly changed to allow equality among students, because at the end of the day we are all here to learn, not to get shamed for what we are wearing.