Does the school your children attend have a dress code? Many of them do. Some schools opt for a specific, very limited, dress code. Others are a little less stringent. While a dress code might annoy your son, school dress codes can harm your daughter’s education. Here are some things for parents to watch out for.
Ideally, a school dress code is designed to equalize students. Everyone has to wear the same type of uniform, with limited variations. (Typical variations include skirts for girls and pants for boys). Schools might choose to only allow clothing of specific colors.
The goal appears to be to make all students look pretty much the same as each other. This reduces some distractions such as student’s concerns about having the latest fashions or the coolest brands.
Or, at least that’s the hope. Students can still find ways to designate who the “cool kids” are. Parents need to be aware that uniform-like dress codes cannot entirely erase problems with cliques. Your daughter might be excluded for not wearing the “right” kind of socks or hair accessories.
Other schools are a bit less stringent about what they accept as part of their dress code. Parents need to be very aware about how the school presents this information. Sadly, some schools choose to make their rules about dress code all about what girls wear (with little focus on what the boys are wearing).
School dress codes can send the wrong messages to students. Girls are being taught that they cannot wear tank tops (even on hot days) because they will distract the boys.
This is a big problem because it sexualizes the bodies of underage girls and tells the girls that it is their responsibility to make sure boys are not distracted in class. It tells the boys that they are not responsible for their own actions if there is a girl in the room who is dressed in ways that reveal her knees or shoulders. Parents need to talk to their sons about what consent means and specifically point out that the way a girl is dressed is not an open invitation for harassment.
Even worse, girls who break the dress code because their shirt is too low cut, or their skirt doesn’t reach their knees, are being kicked out of class to go change. The longer a girl has to wait in the school’s office, the more class time she is missing out on.
How long would it take you to leave work, go home, pick out an alternative outfit for your daughter, and bring it to her at school? That’s how long your daughter is missing out on math, science, and other subjects.
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