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Dublin School Board Set to Vote on Student Dress Code Change

April 26, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 11.32.39 PMDUBLIN, CA–The Dublin Unified School District Board of Trustees will receive an update on the always controversial topic of student dress code regulations at tonight’s school board meeting. Included in the action item are results of surveys fielded to Dublin High School, Valley High School, Fallon Middle School and Wells Middle School parents, students, teachers and administration. Students familiar with the “shorter than mid thigh” rule may soon need to get used to a new “thumb length” rule. Not surprisingly adults and teens disagree on the question: “Do you believe the dress code is reasonable?”

  • Teachers: Strongly Agree / Agree: 63% vs. Somewhat or Strongly Disagree: 21%
  • Parents: Strongly Agree / Agree: 55% vs. Somewhat or Strongly Disagree: 25%
  • Students: Strongly Agree / Agree: 17% vs. Somewhat or Strongly Disagree: 74%

Teachers, parents and teens do agree, however, that the dress code is not enforced fairly. Responses to”Do you believe the dress code is fairly enforced?”

  • Teachers: Strongly Agree / Agree: 28% vs. Somewhat or Strongly Disagree: 57%
  • Parents: Strongly Agree / Agree: 18% vs. Somewhat or Strongly Disagree: 51%
  • Students: Strongly Agree / Agree: 19% vs. Somewhat or Strongly Disagree: 71%

The survey results from the district aren’t broken down by the gender of the respondent but based on the numerous comments from students, issues around fairness of enforcement focus on how girls are treated. Some representative comments from students:

“We come to school to learn, not to be picked on for the clothes we wear. Freedom of speech and expression is granted to every American citizen and as young American citizens, we are entitled to the same rights. Plain and simply put, there are no advantages to dress code. By pulling a student out of class or side-tracking them during the school day to point out what they are wearing does not meet school dress code expectations, admin is distracting them from learning. According to admin, students wearing revealing clothing are distracting others. But really, isn’t it quite hypocritical that admin is distracting us far more by wasting our time telling us what we’re wearing violates the school dress code? Additionally, making a student wear clothing after being asked to change that says ‘Dress coded’ is a form of harassment. Out in the real world people do not get called out for the clothes that they wear by any superior ruling body, so if school really is supposed to prepare us for the future and for adulthood, how about we start getting treated like adults? ”

“Be fair. Boys shouldn’t be allowed to show their shoulders if girls can’t. This isn’t the old days women deserve the same treatment as men. The dress code rules are ridiculous.”

“Be more lenient on hot days. Be reasonable. Follow the spirit of the law, rather than the letter of the law. It’s unnecessary to ask a student to undergo tests to see if their clothing is ‘approved’ (standing up to see if their shorts reach fingertip level, raising their arms up to see if their shirt rides up, how many finger widths their shirt straps are). If their clothes are inappropriate enough to actually impact other’s learning or are obscene, anyone with working eyes should be able to tell without these frankly demeaning tests.”

“Enforce and construct the dress code fairly. Stop teaching girls to change so that they do not have to literally FEAR what a boy can do to them. Stop allowing dress codes to perpetuate oppressive objectification towards girls. Create the dress code in a way that does NOT tell girls that it is their JOB to let boys focus on school. Thanks, DHS.”

“Girls are held to the dress code more strictly than boys. The dress code being overly strict is more of a distraction than the clothes that it bans. As a girl, wearing jeans in 100+ weather is difficult and uncomfortable. Wearing shorts is a societal norm and it is hard to find mid thigh shorts. I have extremely long legs and finding ‘mid thigh’ shorts that do not come down to my knees is basically impossible. Same goes for dresses and skirts. I agree with most of the dress code except the mid-thigh rule. “

Parents also had a lot to say about what is appropriate when it comes to student attire:

“A dress code can be advantageous when it protects students from dressing inappropriately or wearing clothes that make other students feel unsafe or unwelcome. The problem is that it promotes the ridiculous idea that young people aren’t responsible for their own choices but they are responsible for the behavior of their peers. If a young man is ‘distracted’ by a female’s attire, he is the problem, not whatever she’s wearing. If a young person decides to try a cigarette because he saw it on someone’s shirt, he is the problem, not what the person was wearing. It’s time we realized that high school students are not children anymore and allow them the responsibility for their own behavior that they deserve and need.”

“The dress code is unfair to very tall girls where the clothing industry does not provide options that will meet the standard. The dress code must take into account what parents can actually buy their children – if the clothing industry doesn’t sell those options, then forcing taller girls to where jeans on a 90 degree days is not fair. The ‘thigh high or longer’ needs to be amended with ‘if such clothing is possible to purchase’ or eliminated altogether.

Ideally, a dress code should be exception-based – where a reasonable person would acknowledge there is an issue and best, when there actually is an issue. The current dress code does more to shame girls than it does to address a real problem – the perception that girls are to blame for the bad behavior of boys and men. The ‘thigh high or longer’ is clearly targeted girls.”

“I love that the dress code reminds students that school is their work, and that clothes that might be appropriate elsewhere are not appropriate at work. I fully agree that students need to be protected from the distraction of suggestive, dangerous, gang-related, or drug-promoting clothing. It isn’t appropriate attire for school.”

“Being a parent of a girl it’s particularly difficult as the dress code does not support the current style. You cannot find shorts which are mid-thigh or longer and leggings/yoga pants are very popular (although to my knowledge not currently against dress code). I ensure my child is appropriately dressed and her shorts during warm weather are what I consider an appropriate length, even though they are slightly shorter than the dress code requires. If she wears a skirt or dress, she always wears with ‘volleyball’ type shorts underneath.”

“Having a dress code is useful and should be enforced fairly. But I think that the consequences of violation are maybe too harsh. Sometimes kids aren’t aware that they are violating the code, and in these cases, they should receive a warning. It’s hard for me to imagine when expulsion would be a reasonable consequence for a dress code violation. Even suspension should be reserved for very egregious violations, in my opinion.”

The current dress code is available here, and two changes are proposed:

  • Item 3, originally “Hats, caps and other head coverings shall not be worn indoors.” to be extended with “unless for valid medical reasons, authorized in writing by a physician, or for religious reasons, authorized by a parent/guardian.”
  • Item 4, originally, “Clothes shall be sufficient to conceal undergarments at all times. See-through or fish-net fabrics, halter tops, off-the-shoulder or low-cut tops, bare midriffs and skirts or shorts shorter than mid-thigh are prohibited.” will have “shorter than mid thigh” replaced by “thumb length”.

The full survey results and all comments are available here.

What do you think? Are dress codes necessary? Is the current dress code fair? Is the dress code primarily targeting girls? Is this a solution looking for a problem? Comment below!

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2 Comments
  1. Janice Liao permalink
    April 26, 2016 7:57 am

    Why not a uniform?
    Make it easy for everyone. Same thing, everyday. No thought needed. Even Mark Zuckerberg does it. Grey T-shirt and Jeans.

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