In the last week, we have seen at least three cases of students being humiliated and targeted due to not following the dress code in school districts across the country. A superintendent by the name of Ronda Bass in Noble, Oklahoma is under fire for allegedly asking students if they had any peers in school dressed as skanks. In another case, it has been determined that in one school in Ohio that cheerleaders are no longer allowed to wear the skirt part of their uniform to classes because they are too short, but they can still wear the skirts while rooting for the football team. And in Orlando, students who violated the dress code were made to wear bright yellow T-shirts that stated " I support Lee MS dress code" when what they were wearing was determined to be in violation of clothing standards, before the superintendent changed his mind about the practice.
The main thing all these cases have in common is that they target female students more than their male peers, because boys never violate dress code standards by dressing like "skanks."
I'm all for dress codes in schools. I think having standards for what kids wear to class can be conducive to an effective learning environment and help ensure that kids don't get injured while wearing flips flops or don't offend others by wearing questionable T-shirts. Dress codes also mean that no one has to see the tops of someone's underwear if their jeans are all saggy. I personally like uniforms because I believe school is for learning and not a fashion show and kids can learn to express their individuality in ways other than how they dress or on weekends or after school. I have no issue with any of this. But what I do take issue with is how these dress code policies are usually enforced under the guise of protecting male students from viewing female student's body parts because we all know, boys are incapable of getting their learn on if they see a flash of female thigh. Boys are never called skanks because they wore a sleeveless T-shirt to school.
Dress codes should be the same for both female and male students across the board. Students should be taught that they shouldn't objectify female students due to what they wear. I think all of us are aware that teenagers are a mess of raging hormones and that nothing anyone wears is going to keep them from admiring each other without any sort of sexual intent. But a 15-minute discussion on objectification, respect, consent and how to treat each other would go a long way if added to a health class or PE curriculum. And it would also help greatly if adult educators didn't single out female students for the lengths of their skirts.
I have three sons. I believe they are capable of being the type of men who don't objectify women based on how they are dressed. I believe they are capable of attending class and getting their assignments completed even if seated next to a female student in a pair of leggings or a tank top. I believe boys are way smarter than we are giving them credit for in these circumstances, and I also think our daughters should never be judged based on their skirt lengths. I believe it's time school districts realize this too and open up a dialogue about how we treat kids regarding dress codes based on their gender. No young girls ever gets dressed in the morning hoping that they will be humiliated by an adult at school over what they wear that day.
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