Dress Code Controversies

November 2, 2015

Is the new enforcement of TL’s dress code a double standard? Our writers weigh in.

Dress Code: Sexist?

In many schools, dress codes are created to make sure that all the students in the school stay focused and on task. Although this may be a good idea in theory, it is unfair in practice.

The new dress code is biased against girls – they are supposed to watch what they wear, while the boys don’t have as many restrictions.

The problem stems from the fact that girls are targeted more often than boys, and the implied message of dress codes is that it is the responsibility of female students to prevent boys from being too distracted to learn.

According to the administration, one of the main reasons that TL has a dress code is to maintain a good learning environment. The problem is that the “too revealing” clause is obviously aimed at the girls; the boys, while still having rules to follow themselves, don’t have as much to worry about. Bra straps showing, spaghetti straps, excessively short shorts – whether these items are too revealing is subjective. There can be no consistency in the enforcement of these rules, and the concentrated attention on girls’ attire shifts people’s focus from academics to body image. People are going to buy what they like to wear, whether it’s appropriate or not, teens are guided by what they find in their favorite stores, and it’s unfair to suggest girls shouldn’t wear current fashions because other people might react negatively.

Teachers are enforcing the dress code because they want to keep the school environment more professional. However, girls have the right to wear what they want, just like anyone should. In the opinion of both boys and girls, it’s not fair that girls get called out for what they wear. In the words of junior Emma Roggenkamp, “None of the teachers are enforcing it so I don’t think it’s going to work at all. I also think that it’s kind of unfair to spring it upon us. I’ve talked to so many girls who’ve been dress coded for showing shoulders or a bra strap.” Some girls might feel targeted or humiliated by getting called out by teachers, and they shouldn’t be feeling stress about what they wear.

Even in the opinion of a male student, junior Cameron Taylor, “There’s a lot of restrictions for girls and fewer for boys. I don’t think it’s fair that girls have so many more restrictions. I think it should be more equal.” It is obvious that not only girls are aware of the dress code restrictions, but boys see the inequality as well, and share similar thoughts. It seems that girls are unnecessarily targeted for dress code violations compared to boys.

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Dress Code Double Standard


Terra Linda High School spearheaded a plan to start enforcing the dress code this year. This weak attempt has been sparingly imposed by random teachers at random times, but at the homecoming rally, any dress code that might have existed was completely obliterated.

To raise the spirit for sports, students set up a game to exemplify all fall sports: football, tennis, golf, water polo and cross country. During the rally’s game, a waterpolo player dressed in nothing more than a speedo – a practically naked boy, at school, breaking the entire dress code like humpty dumpty when he fell off the wall.

The first rule of the dress code clearly states “Shoes and shirts are required always.” I saw no shoes and definitely no shirt. Secondly, “clothing must be worn as it is intended to be worn,” So why is a speedo worn outside a swimming pool allowed? The next broken piece part “personal parts of the body should be appropriately covered.” Clearly the “personal parts of his body” were not appropriately covered by the millimeters of fabric in that speedo. To top if off, the dress code directly addresses, “Bathing suits, sports bras and see-through or fishnet fabrics are not appropriate school attire.”

This clearly sexist interpretation of the dress code is exactly why students are having problems taking it seriously. While a boy can run around in a mere speedo, a girl can not have visible bra straps. The reasoning for this is that bra straps could cause a distraction for other students. While I do understand that this was during a rally and not directly during a learning period, it does send mixed messages to students who are already confused about what they can and can not wear. Either the school should fix these sexist and misleading rules or get rid of the dress code altogether.

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