The Dress Code Dilemma

As different parts of the country began their school year this past week & the weather has maintained its summer climate, students have had to face an on-going battle when it comes to dress code.

In a recent article from NPR, school administrators face daily battles with students who push the bounds of appropriate clothing and accessories. Every school has its own version of “appropriate” dress, but the mindset associated with dress codes differ as it relates to students in question.

The article lists hemlines, sleeve length or lack thereof, shirt/dress length and suggestive content on tee shirts as definite targets depending on the school’s policies, and while the rules are being adopted by most schools in the country, some have taken the rules a bit far.

One school in Ashland, Colorado has banned headbands. In a high school in Kenesaw, GA., coveralls and jumpsuits have been banned.

These school rules may not resonate with everyone, but an incident that happened to a teen in Oakleaf High School, FL may. In the case of Miranda Larkin, a fifteen year-old who had transferred from Seattle to Florida, what should have been an easy transition to a new school became a nightmare. Larkin was not versed with the school’s dress code, so when she went to school with what was considered by the school’s dress code as a short skirt, she was approached by a teacher. Instead of notifying her parents about their concern, she was brought to the nurse’s office and forced to wear a shirt with the saying “Dress Code Violation” and told to wear it for the rest of the school day.

While I can understand that dress codes are put in place to make sure that appropriateness is upheld, I don’t believe that school employees should resort to public shaming any student to prove their point. It’s bad enough that this teen has to deal with being a new student in a different school, but in addition, she will be known as the girl who had to wear a “shame suit” for not knowing the school’s dress code.

My daughter’s school has a dress code that dictates what is appropriate, but I would hope that if she wears something that is deemed inappropriate by the dress code, I would be notified about it instead of publicly shaming her. I also believe that while my husband and I encourage her to express herself with the way she dresses, I still voice my concerns about appropriate clothing choices to her. To her credit, she is aware of how she projects herself with her choices and knows what’s appropriate or not.

Dress codes do serve their purpose, but using them to publicly shame students is uncalled for. It’s unfortunate that Melissa Larkin had to endure being shamed before the policy had to be reviewed. Here’s hoping that as a result of what happened to Melissa Larkin, dress codes will be seen as guidelines and not laws that result in punishment if one doesn’t adhere to them. That’s my view on this, what’s yours?

To read the articles noted in this post, please click below.

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