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What is Inappropriate Clothing For School?

What is the real reason for dress code in school?

Dress codes are typically implemented by school districts and employers to promote learning, safety, and image. Although such regulations face First Amendment challenges by students, parents, and employees, the courts generally support the schools and employers.

Do school dress codes sexualize girls?

Schools across the United States have dress codes that sexualize and objectify girls, allowing adults to police girls’ bodies. Rather than having two separate dress codes for boys and girls, there should be one universal dress code that lets kids express themselves and feel confident in what they’re wearing

Schools typically banT-shirts that display racist, sexist, obscene, or gang-related messages. Generally, clothing shouldn’t be overly revealing, hats can’t be worn in the classroom, and jewelry shouldn’t be able to double as a weapon (heavy chains, for example).

What are school dress codes?

Ninety-three percent of school districts have dress codes or policies on what students wear to school. These policies are meant to provide guidelines on what students can and can’t wear, including specific pieces of clothing, hairstyles, and accessories.

What percentage of dress code violations are girls?

According to a public records review by a local news outlet, girls accounted for 83 percent of students cited for dress code violations.


Dress Codes

Dress codes are typically implemented by school districts and employers to promote learning, safety, and image. Although such regulations face First Amendment challenges by students, parents, and employees, the courts generally support the schools and employers.

Court has never directly addressed school dress codes

School dress codes that merely exclude types of clothing, such as gang colors or provocative attire, tend to be enacted without controversy. When codes require uniform-like attire, however, many parents and children object.

The Supreme Court has never directly addressed school dress codes. In Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969), which involved high school students wearing black armbands to protest the Vietnam War, the Court affirmed students’ First Amendment rights to free speech. Although the Court’s decision upheld students’ right to express themselves through certain items they wear, the Court has never specified whether that right bars uniforms, dress codes, or grooming requirements.

Dress codes urged to curtail gang violence

Faced with increasing student-discipline problems, particularly from gang violence (involving gangs whose members often identified themselves through items of clothing) and a rise in more prurient clothing in the 1980s and 1990s, school systems in the 1990s began to introduce dress codes, school uniforms, and uniform-like dress codes.

In two State of the Union addresses, President Bill Clinton advocated public school uniforms, similar to those in parochial schools and many public schools overseas. The number of schools that adopted uniforms is not known, but in California, where they were first mandated, at least 50 schools abandoned their uniform requirements between 2000 and 2002.

Short of restricting pure political expression that does not disrupt learning, school officials have much constitutional latitude. The law in this area is far from settled, and the courts frequently side with the schools when dress requirements are challenged by students and parents.

In practice, however, the bitterness and the cost of litigation have reduced the practical maneuvers of school administrators and school boards.

Protecting expressive rights

If school officials attempt to punish students who exercise their expressive rights by wearing buttons, writing on fingernails, or protest messages on shirts, they could find themselves slapped with protected-speech or petition action lawsuits. In addition, in districts that have imposed incentives to increase participation in voluntary uniform and uniform-like dress codes, threats of or actual lawsuits have quickly emerged to halt this allegedly coercive practice.

Opponents of dress codes and uniforms are often fall into a few categories:

  • those who do not want the schools to usurp parental rights,
  • those who desire student independence,
  • those who wish to use secondhand clothing,
  • and those who simply want to show off their attire.

Similarly, the motives of advocates of mandatory uniforms or uniform-like dress codes vary from those who want to de-emphasize clothing and promote the egalitarianism implicit in similar clothing to those who primarily wish to avoid fights with their children over what to wear.

4 Things Public Schools Can and Can’t Do When It Comes to Dress Codes

Most students have encountered school dress codes in one form or another – from bans on spaghetti straps or crop tops, to restrictions on certain hair styles, hair length, and head coverings. Despite how common they are, school dress codes and grooming policies often reflect and reinforce outdated and sexist stereotypes, and may be disproportionately enforced against students who are more likely to be policed or perceived as deviant by school officials.

School dress codes, for example, may reflect the sexist and harmful view that girls’ bodies are inherently vulgar or inappropriate, that boys will be “distracted” by girls’ bodies, and that girls’ dress and appearance require more regulation than that of boys. Such policies also may punish LGBTQ+ students for not conforming with rigid and binary gender norms about proper behavior and appearance. Moreover, students of color – and especially Black girls and other girls of color – are disproportionately targeted for dress code enforcement because of intersecting race and gender stereotypes. Black girls, in particular, are often seen as less innocent and more adult-like, aggressive and threatening, and needing less support and protection – often known as the “adultification bias.”

You may be left wondering where the line is between a permissible dress code and unlawful discrimination. Here’s the short answer: While public schools are allowed to have dress codes and uniform policies, they cannot discriminate against certain students or censor student expression.

Here are a few of the basics on what public schools can and cannot do when it comes to dress codes.

20 Disadvantages and Advantages of School Uniforms