Dress Code controversies across the country lead to student outrage

Dress code violation Photo by: today.com
Dress code violation
Photo by: today.com

Mid-September leaves many cities with ninety degree temperatures and soaring humidity levels. Included in that list of scorching cities is Pasadena, where students at a local high school recently found themselves in hot water over their dress code.

The situation came to light after students went online to voice their outrage. The official handbook of Pasadena High School states that students are not to wear “sundresses, low-cut or tight shirts, tank tops,” and dozens of other clothing items, which seems to address the fashion choices of female students much more than male students.

A Kentucky high school also landed in the news recently due to a dress code violation. The school graced the pages of the Daily Mail and was featured on the Today Show after a female student was taken out of class for wearing a tank top, a loose fitted cardigan and ankle length jeans.

The image of the student’s outfit went viral, with commenters arguing against the school’s seemingly sexist dress code. The student was further outraged when her mother was called about the issue, interrupting her at work. The student’s mother left her job to bring a scarf to drape over her daughter’s collarbones, which the school had deemed distracting.

The mother also reported that many other female students were in the office, after being pulled out of class, waiting for their parents to bring them a change of clothes. Despite the mother’s efforts, her daughter was still told that her outfit was too revealing. “I actually think she’s dressed very professionally.” said SLV junior Lexi Warner upon looking at a photo of the girl,“School is supposed to teach us to dress for a work environment, and she did that.”

SLV junior Jasmine Brack said, “I think it’s absolutely ridiculous if our collarbones are considered distracting.”

Despite these two school’s strict dress codes, not every school has such over the top restrictions. SLV’s own dress code is simple and just requires students to dress in a “respectful manner.”

However, a recent Cougar Mail sent to parents outlined the school’s plan for cracking down on dress code violations.  Students reacted in an overwhelmingly negative fashion. Halie Greene, a junior, was one student opposed to the dress code crack down. Greene said that “High school should be a time in which we can start expressing ourselves through our clothes, so stricter rules would stop that from happening.”

Many students find that dress codes are significantly stricter in middle school than in high school. The New York Times recently reported that early adolescent, or middle school aged, girls’ self esteem plummets during this time. The study the article reported on also found that girls tend to stop speaking up in class and start dieting during this time.

“I think that dress codes and self esteem definitely have a direct correlation.” Greene also said, “We wear what we feel good in, and dress codes basically say that we shouldn’t do that.”

Girls enter puberty before boys, and dress codes in middle school seem to reflect this. Star Hagen-Esquerra, a junior, was given a dress code violation in middle school. When asked about it, Hagen-Esquerra said, “I felt as if I was treated as an adult, when I really did not feel like I was one.

I wasn’t mature enough to know how to react to the problem as a middle schooler, and it felt humiliating.” The current punishment for dress code violation at the middle school is cleaning up trash on the school campus- a very public punishment.

Students across the board felt that the punishment for dress code violation, if any, should be something between the administrator and the student, and not a public display for the student body. Students feel that the current dress code at SLV, which requires things like non-sagging pants and hate symbol- free attire, is not sexist. The code does seem to confuse a few students, however, as the handbook also outlines that “A-shirt” undershirts should not be worn.

“I don’t even know what that is!” said Hagen-Esquerra, “Is there B-shirts too? Can I wear those to school?”


-Serena Mendoza

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