Over the years, schools across the country have gotten more and more strict with how they allow their students to dress. Looking back when people would show up pretty much barefoot to school in the ’70s, we’ve gotten to a point where the more a school can control how student’s dress, the more “comfortable” they feel about the learning experience they’re giving.
However, recently, we’ve seen more and more stories appear in the headlines where administrations have unjustly targeted women and people of color when it comes to disciplining “dress code violations.” Not only is it unfair, it’s also a huge distraction and waste of time in the timeline of a student’s education. The amount of time it takes to discipline the student, have them change, attend detention, have their parents called, etc. is equivalent to the valuable time they could be spending in the classroom.
To combat this, and the growing trend of body image issues amongst teens, one California school district is doing away with the rules and implementing an anti-dress code. Alameda Unified School District has officially implemented a new policy where the ability to judge an outfit on whether or not it’s “appropriate” is at the luxury of the student and their parents.
When explaining why they’ve decided to take on this way of thinking, the district explained on their website:
The rules were subjective in nature and resulted in inconsistent enforcement based on gender, body type, and maturity.
The rules were inconsistent with AUSD’s value of inclusivity.
The rules did not support student wellness and positive body image.
Additionally, the school district added:
Students also pointed out that the rules focused more on girls than boys and resulted in girls losing class time more often than boys (when they had to go to the office to change clothes or wait for a parent to bring alternative clothes, for instance). This raises education equity issues that we believe are important to resolve.
In addition, we now know that when student bodies and clothing are monitored and measured by school staff, students can end up feeling embarrassed or even ashamed. This can interfere with learning and contribute to negative body image.
However, the anti-dress code still has rules in place. Students can now wear crop-tops, skirts, shorts, and ripped jeans (even pajamas) at their leisure, but they must come to school wearing:
Bottoms, tops, shoes, and clothing that covers genitals, buttocks and areolae/nipples with opaque material.
Additionally, students are now allowed to wear:
Hats, including religious headwear; hoodie sweatshirts (overhead is allowed); fitted pants, including leggings, yoga pants, and skinny jeans; sweatpants; shorts; skirts and dresses; midriff-baring shirts; pajamas; ripped jeans, as long as underwear is not exposed; tank tops, including spaghetti straps, halter tops; and “tube” (strapless) tops.
However, students are by no means allowed to wear:
Violent language or images, and items depicting illegal activity, hate speech, profanity, or pornography. You also cannot have visible underwear or bathing suits of similar design. However, they specify that visible waistbands or straps on undergarments worn under other clothing are not a violation.
People online were impressed with the movement of this school district and thought that more schools should take notes.
College doesn’t have dress code. My daughter’s high school didn’t either and they were the highest performing school in the county. 100% were accepted into four year colleges.
— Pam Hall (@PamHall94517) August 20, 2018
I don't live there but I hope my kid's school district follows suit. Good on them. What my kid wears is up to her (and me). If she's comfortable, she'll be able to focus on learning.
— Sarah D. (@berry_buzz) August 25, 2018
Such an awesome story of students revolutionizing this good ol' sexist institution (that I too raged against in my high school days): the damn dress code. #TheBayKQED @KQEDnews https://t.co/ZIhi5pcVEQ
— Bianca Taylor (@SoundsLkeBianca) August 22, 2018
Alameda schools' new dress code: Tube tops are in, shaming girls is out
— Coopmike48 (@coopmike48) August 22, 2018
Good! let's stop acting like schools are hookup bars and stop focusing SO MUCH on what girls are wearing and more on learning, shall we?
— Leah (@gusnlea) August 26, 2018
I have 2 boys and they should be able to sit and learn next to girls in their underwear and bras bc we don’t treat the female body as solely an object of sexual desire. Attraction is natural but so is self control.
— Sabina (@nakshatradevi) August 25, 2018