Some school districts bowing out of dress code wars
- After students protested the school district dress code as unfairly targeting girls, Illinois' Evanston Township High School District 202 has relaxed its dress code by simplifying requirements and removing gender-identifying terms, District Administration reports.
- In the past, students staged a sit-in outside the superintendent’s office, claiming the former dress code was more punitive to girls than boys and promoted body shaming, and the district also removed the terms “boys” and “girls” to avoid offending students who do not ascribe to binary genders.
- School leaders have now implemented a more relaxed model dress code created by the Oregon Chapter of the National Organization of Women, feeling that their time was better spent on education rather than pulling students out of class for wardrobe issues.
After several school districts faced protests over school dress policies in recent years, some are taking a hard look at these policies to determine what is fair and in the best interest of students. In some schools, the dress code policy is distracting from education and needs to be better addressed. But while some schools have adopted more relaxed policies regarding dress codes, others see uniforms as a better solution.
According to the National Center of Education Statistics, the use of school uniforms is on the rise. From the 1999-2000 school year to the 2015-2016 school year, the percentage of schools that required uniforms increased from 12% to 21%. These percentages are higher in younger grades, with 25% of elementary schools having a uniform requirement as opposed to 12% of high schools. While some critics say that school uniforms place an undue financial burden on poor students, statistics show that predominately low-income schools are more likely to require school uniforms. And some states and school districts are seeking ways to help defray the costs for students who can’t afford them.
Another issue to consider is school security. In the District Administration article, leaders of Evanston Township High School District 202 said they felt more attention should be directed to school safety issues than dress codes. However, some school security experts point out that the use of uniforms increases school safety because it alleviates socio-economic tensions, makes gang identification more difficult, helps school staff identify intruders more easily, and makes it harder for students to conceal weapons.
- District Administration School districts loosen dress codes after gender-bias complaints