Create a Fair and Realistic Dress Code for Students in Fort Mill Public Schools

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We, concerned citizens of Fort Mill, are petitioning the Fort Mill School District to make changes to the current school dress codes. The general guidelines for students, in particular females, are unrealistic, arbitrarily enforced, and unfair. Of particular concern are items like shorts having to be no more than 4” above the crease of the knee, no tank tops (sleeveless style dresses and blouses are common in corporate America, not distracting and would provide girls with more comfortable dress options.

Our own school board members often times wear sleeveless dresses during school visits and board meetings), and very strict guidelines on where holes in jeans can be placed. Dress codes also vary by school, even at the same grade level, and that causes confusion, stress and anxiety for students and parents. Calling girls out for dress code violations has a negative impact on class time, self esteem and relationship building with teachers and administrators.

Since stylish and appropriate clothing that meets the current dress code is often difficult or impossible to find, our daughters report that they feel forced to wear long pants and jeans even in 90-100 degree weather (common in South Carolina) simply to avoid being embarrassed or penalized for a clothing choice. Not only is this very uncomfortable, but it promotes victim blaming and negative or distorted body imaging and makes our daughters feel less empowered during an age when they are already emotionally vulnerable. Research shows that people with negative body images have a greater likelihood of developing eating disorders and are more likely to suffer from feelings of depression, isolation, low self-esteem, and obsessions with weight loss. All are legitimate concerns when it comes to the safety, health and well being of our students.

Additionally, we feel that the district is sending the wrong message to our sons who should be taught to respect and support their female peers. Our sons should not be sent the message that the adults around them feel they are incapable of treating all females with respect, that they are unable to control themselves nor that a female’s attire is a license for distraction or to act inappropriately.

We are asking that the school board and district revise the current dress code and include parents and students in the conversation with the use of parent advisory boards or student task forces dedicated specifically to this cause. This is an opportunity for our community to come together and for our district to show a true display of leadership through open communication and dialogue with the goal of creating a dress code that gives students freedom from stress and anxiety and empowers our daughters and sons to learn and feel safe and comfortable at school.  

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