When School Dress Codes Discriminate
When school dress codes discriminate, students can feel like second-class citizens. Gender identity, age, and body size can all play into how a dress code is enforced, and these factors can lead to students feeling constricted or uncomfortable in their clothing.
A recent example of a dress code that discriminated against students was the case of a high school student in Oregon who was punished for wearing a “distracting dress” to class. The dress code at the school said that “shorts, skirts that show ankle or upper leg, tank tops, and clothing that is too tight or revealing” were not allowed. The student was suspended for three days and had to attend a “dress code training” session.
In a situation like this, a student’s gender identity can be a particular target of discrimination. For transgender students, wearing clothing that is consistent with their gender identity can be a way to feel comfortable and affirmed in their own skin. However, in many schools, wearing clothing that does not match the gender identity assigned at birth is seen as a violation of the dress code. This can lead to transgender students feeling ostracized and out of place.
Another example of discrimination that can occur when school dress codes are enforced is age-based discrimination. In some cases, a dress code can prohibit students from wearing clothing that is considered too young or too old for their age. This can be especially problematic for students who are not comfortable with their age or who feel that they are not in sync with the rest of the student body.
Body size can also be a factor that leads to students feeling discriminated against when it comes to dress code enforcement. A student’s size can be a sign of obesity, and in some cases, dress codes can prohibit students from wearing clothing that is considered too large or too small. This can be particularly problematic for students who are overweight or obese, as they may feel that they are not allowed to wear clothing that is comfortable or flattering.
When school dress codes discriminate against students, it can lead to them feeling uncomfortable and ostracized. This can have a negative impact on the students’ education and sense of self-worth. It is important for schools to develop clear and concise dress codes that do not discriminate against students based on their gender identity, age, or body size.