“To be, or not to be? That is the question. “- William Shakespeare. A timeless quote that can be related to multiple different matters. In this case, dress code. Dress code is a very controversial topic because it is either there is either full control or not enough control. Yet, there will always be that dying question of whether or not the school system is treating the subject matter thoroughly or not. Dress code is defined by the Merriam Webster Dictionary as, “a set of rules about what clothing may and may not be worn at a school, office, restaurant, etc. “.
But where do we draw the line when it comes to what you can and can’t where? Do we allow a shirt that says, “Forever Atheist. ” when we don’t allow a Chabad? Any set of rules or laws has to be content neutral, it can’t specifically favor one side over the other for personal reasons. And in order to do so, we have to maintain balance in this semi-open idea place. A survey from the National Association of Elementary School Principals states that leaders of schools with a formal dress code/uniform policy suspect that the rule in place has made a powerful, positive impact on peer pressure (86% of leader) and bullying (64 % of leaders).
They also believed that the guideline made an effective impact on class discipline (85%), school pride and image (83%) (77%), safety (79%), and attendance (44%). For years school uniforms have been in place, but with recent events, the presence of the idea has boomed since the 2000’s. Yet again, these boundaries on what to wear are technically violating the first amendment because it is limiting freedom of speech very predominately. The matter is a very slippery slope, what to allow and what not to allow.
Additionally, the rules are easily interpreted as sexist, shaming girls for wearing what needs to be worn. __. A lot of the time, school workers blame a female student’s clothing as the reason why boys are being distracted from their learning. They are taking a student out of learning so that a male student can focus better. “Your selfcontrol is not my problem,” some would say. Pros of a Dress Code/Uniform Policy: School uniforms cost relatively less than brand name clothing, in most cases (about 90%). Less distraction for all students.
Uniforms can make it easier to identify who is breaking the rules. Eliminates peer pressure for the most part. Encourages a more serious school atmosphere. Dress codes have more of a sense of choice rather than uniforms. Uniforms could reduce the social class bullying based on clothing. Related: Almost eliminates competition from students not having this or that. Decreasing pressure on families to provide expensive clothing. Uniforms could decrease crime and possibly ensure student safety. Related: Can easily identify intruders. Dress code can promote a sense of security and safety.
Can help prevent gang formation. Cons of a Dress Code/Uniform Policy: Can make school feel more like a jail rather than a place to learn. Sometimes, uniforms are a lot more costly than regular clothes. Difficult to keep up with violations. Uniforms can be uncomfortable. Clothing material. Self-consciousness about how it fits on a person. Limits student’s freedom of speech/expression. The Tinker vs. Des Moines case of 1969 is an interesting example of this. Students of a public school in Des Moines, Iowa formed a silent protest against the Vietnam War.
The group decided to wear black armbands to school to promote peace. When the principal found out, the students who participated got a warning. Even with the warning, the students continued to wear the bands and were suspended because they “disrupted learning”. During the suspension, parents decided to sue the school for violating their student’s right to freedom of speech. The final decision when the case was taken to the United States Supreme Court was that the student’s rights should have been protected.
Another modern day example that is thought of that frequently is that at Valor Christian High school, they do not allow male students to have any type of earring, but female students are permitted to have some. It limits a male student’s originality, which is not commonly talked about. Also, Valor Christian forbids students to dye their hair any “unnatural colour, therefore taking their right to that away. The specific rule against no exposed shoulders, “short-shorts”, (in extreme cases) collar bones, etc. or not distracting male students and disrupting their education. This rule is applied in almost every school in America. By interrupting a girl’s education so that she can leave school to change her clothes in order to not disturb a boy’s learning is utterly sexist and demeaning to girls. By saying this, there are so many effects that could damage young woman such as self-esteem issues that could harm them later on in life. Dress code can promote rape culture among boys. Instead of teaching “don’t rape”, educators teach “don’t get raped”.
One in six women in the United States are victims of completed or attempted rape (about 17. 7 million women) and about 44% of those victims are under the age of 18. It should not be another person’s fault for your lack of self-control. Leads to the sexual exploitation of women. Shames students from not wearing what they need to wear. If it is 100°F outside, a pupil should be allowed to wear a tank top and shorts to avoid heat exhaustion. If it is O°F outside, then you should be allowed to wear a sweatshirt and sweatpants so you don’t freeze.
If a female Muslim student needs/wants to wear a Hijab (a traditional headscarf used to cover hair and the neck) for religious reasons, then she should be allowed to not be shamed for it. The quantity of arguments and debates about this topic is almost infinite. But I don’t believe that the answer is one way or the other. In order to be professional and settle this controversy, we have to do one thing: compromise. A compromise is a tricky and delicate idea. You have to make sure that one side is not more favored than the other side, it has to be straight-up in the middle.
Being a 14 year-old girl who can talk about anything can be a lot more valuable in a dispute such as this rather than a close-minded school official. You see, “don’t get raped” is more commonly taught than “don’t rape”. We state that “boys will be boys” or “they are just playful” while talking about some incredibly serious topics such as sexual assault. Sexual assault is defined by any unwanted attention that relates to a sexual interest, whether it is verbal cat-calling or physical violence.
By training girls into thinking that it is their fault for another person’s lack of self-control, you are essentially teaching boys that it is their nature to be so aggressive and distracted when it comes to relationships. Which is not true. Dress codes are sexist to both genders. Some schools don’t allow boys to grow out their hair or wear shorter shorts because it is too “girly”. This limits their freedom of expression and keeps them shut-in about their true selves. We cannot allow this to happen because what are these students going to do if they can’t see who they are?
Will they live this lie that school taught them to be? Or, will they be able to overcome it? So how will we maintain balance in the future of these students? If we set boundries such as you can’t wear a hatred group shirt (because it is not protected by the first amendment) or you can’t sag your pants down to your ankles, we can manage to allow them to learn about buisness skills while allowing some of the last parts of their childhood to be as free as it can be. Supporting the future leaders of America and/or the world is what we are supposed to do, right?