Re-Dressing Public School Dress Codes
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Many School Districts across the Nation have been met with opposition in regards to carrying on the tradition of draconian dress codes. The same codes that are constantly proven to be unfair and discriminatory. The archaic thought that the way a girl dresses ultimately is distracting the education of other students, majority being the young boys MUST change. My daughter, currently 11 and just started the sixth grade, is no exception to the affliction of these dress codes. When you have a dress code that is written to a point that it leaves areas open to interpretation from staff and faculty, the student will always lose.
We are an Army family, I have served on Active Duty for over 16 years and we have raised our children to be respectful, honest, and hard working. I grew up in a very conservative and modest family and pay very close attention to how my children dress. In January 2016 the Army moved us to the Augusta Georgia area and we based where we were going to live off of the school demographics. In the end we settled in Grovetown, GA. The schools for our children, at the time, were Cedar Ridge Elementary and Grovetown Middle School. The kids finished out their 4th, 5th, and 8th grade years at these schools, but problems began for our daughter at the end of her 4th grade year.
My daughter is a beautiful, tall and skinny, long legged, blonde haired little girl with a huge heart. She loves school, enjoys being involved with school activities and is a cheerleader. For any women out there that was taller than most, at any given age, and/or has long legs will be able to agree with the fact that it is difficult to find attire that fits. What is even harder is to find attire that fits the way certain school dress codes are written. My daughter’s 4th and 5th grade year was spent at Cedar Ridge Elementary and they crossed the line when it came to dress code enforcement. At one point the administrators had my daughter bend over to check for dress code compliance. On numerous occasions she was singled out and sent from class to the office. We swiftly filed a complaint against the School District and shortly after the county made a revision to the dress code. This county’s dress code was adopted in 1999 and revised in 2003, 2005, 2006, and 2016. They went 10 years with no type of revision until shortly after the complaint was filed. Administrators spend more time playing smoke and mirrors with parents and focused on how girls dress, then they do focusing on the education students are receiving.
Shopping for clothes for our daughter has become a nightmare since her "body type" is not the norm for most girls her age. Even when we focus on stores that specialize in clothes for girls her age, it is still difficult to find and buy items that meet the dress code. She started the 6th grade at Grovetown Middle with my youngest son on August 7th, 2017 and after only four days my daughter has been spoken to and/or my wife has received phone calls daily, in regards to dress code issues. The current county dress code has established the following:
“Skirts and shorts must be fitted at the waist and should be of appropriate length. As a general rule, appropriate length would be at fingertips, provided this measurement is mid-thigh and below. Mini-skirts are deemed to be disruptive and are not allowed. This includes skirts and dresses with any opening that exposes the leg above the appropriate designation. Pants and shorts must be fitted at the waist. They must not be baggy, torn, tattered, and/or ripped. Unacceptable shorts include, but are not limited to, spandex-style "bicycle" shorts, cut-off jeans, cut-off sweat pants, short-shorts, running shorts, and see-through boxer-type shorts. Leggings, “jeggings”, or any other tight fitting pants may only be worn with a top or dress of an appropriate length. As a general rule, appropriate length would be at fingertips, provided this measurement is mid-thigh or below.” (Excerpt from Page 1 and 2 - Policy JCDB - Columbia County School District Dress Code)
This is one of those areas that is left to interpretation of the staff and faculty. The answer from the administration during 4th grade was for my daughter to "just wear pants" as this would avoid any issues and she wouldn’t be exposing too much leg. If anyone has ever been to Georgia during the summer it is a hot experience. When outside temperatures are in the 90s and with humidity you are in excess of 106 degrees, pants are not an option. What this administrator was really saying was that it was ok for my daughter to be uncomfortable and be distracted from her own learning (the classrooms get hot as well) rather than focus on the issue of the dress code and how discriminatory it is and that the current dress code enforces “body shaming” of young girls. This administrator says she was trying to protect my daughter. She was, for this statement, in the 4th grade who are you protecting her from, the 4th grade boys? Her wearing shorts that are close to HER mid-thigh that YOU FEEL are too short protects her from nothing. This entire mindset perpetuates the entire Rape Culture. Administrators have even threatened her with being arrested or suspended for violating the dress code. You are really going to tell a 4th grader that they will be arrested for violating the dress code, just despicable.
My youngest son is now in 7th grade this year and he has made comments regarding the dress code and the fact that he has seen numerous boys walking around wearing muscle shirts and teachers don't take any action towards boys and their dress code violations, but if a girls shorts appear to be even a little "short" it turns into a big deal. Every morning the school has the students stand for silent reflection, this is the point where the homeroom teachers take a look at how all the girls are dressed and send them to the office if they “suspect” a dress code violation. Can we possibly waste any more valuable education time for our children?
A current administrator at Grovetown Middle School took the time to talk to my daughter in regards to the dress code, but when she expressed how she felt about the school focusing only on girls, he dismissed her feelings. There is never a reason for any person in staff or faculty to ever dismiss how a student is feeling, regardless of what it is about. When a student uses the words “I FEEL _______.” The response should never be on the defensive or ever be dismissive. The entire thought process here in the South minimizes girls and women in general, but in keeping with outdated traditions even women force these concepts back on each other in the form of “body shaming”, which continually perpetuates the Rape culture by normalizing the fact that such things are distracting to students. I could understand if she was trying to wear Daisy Dukes, but even her Bermuda shorts were called into question.
Please assist us with trying to get this Board of Education to understand things need to change. My daughter does not need to be continually embarrassed and harassed at school about her shorts. She cannot help how she is built or how clothes fit her that are designed to fit at mid-thigh or longer, but don’t exactly fit the way these administrators deem they should. She should not have to be in tears when she gets home from school every day, or when we are trying to find clothes for her to wear. She shouldn’t be ashamed of the body she was born with or feel at the age of 11 that her going on a diet might help. We are not trying to completely eradicate the current dress code, but we feel that with the correct changes the dress code can have a positive impact.
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