Focus on teaching or youth, not on judging their appearance.

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Let’s focus on teaching students and stop focusing on judging them based on the way they look.

Parents, students, members of the community and society as a whole, need to take a stand against the body shaming and archaic dress codes that are being used in our schools. I am asking that we join together in telling Fredericksburg High School that the strict dress code they are enforcing is not acceptable in 2018. Many schools around the country are making huge changes to dress code policies, it’s time we caught up with these changes. While I understand this will be a hard battle, I truly feel it is a battle worth fighting. Our teachers need to spend their time focusing on teaching our children instead of focusing on shaming them based on their appearance. When you interrupt a child’s school day to force them to change clothes, cover up or send them home because of what they are wearing, how they have their hair cut, colored or styled, the type of make-up or shoes they are wearing, you are sending the message that their education is less important than their looks. This is not ok. You are instilling a lifetime of self-doubt. We all know that this happens overwhelming more to female students than to male students, but it really doesn’t matter which sex it is happening to it is still wrong! Instead of teaching your staff to continue to judge our children based on the way they look, you should have them focus on teaching equality and not to judge others based on how they appear physically, but by who they are on the inside. It’s time we stood up and told the school that we will not allow them to continue to shame our children based on the way they look. It’s time to stand up and tell the school they have no right to tell our children how to groom. It’s time parents stood up and took our rights as parents back from the school administrations! Dress Code and Grooming Policies are not something FHS should be hiding behind to give the staff and principal full power to decide what is and is not acceptable.

High school should be teaching people to deal with the diversity of life, not how to body shame people. America is a melting pot filled with thousands of beliefs, looks and thoughts. Teachers and administrators should be preparing our students to deal with the real world and not teaching them to be ashamed of who they are or to judge others based on physical appearance! A 13-year-old girl who chooses to dye the ends of her hair pink should not be forced to change it simply because staff does not like it. She should not have to wear a sweater over a beautiful dress just because her shoulders show or because she is busty. A girl should not be told she cannot show cleavage when she has no control over the size of her breasts. A 15-year-old girl should not be pulled from class because she has long legs and therefore her shorts appear too short to the staff even though her rear is completely covered. A teenage boy should not be told that he must shave his face when he is not ready to do so just because the staff feels it is necessary because he is going through puberty and has begun to grow facial hair. A 16-year-old girl should not be told that her Mohawk is unacceptable and told to shave her head even though her hair is worn down at school. This is just a very small example of the daily life at FHS.

For those who are not aware, here is what is written, exactly as it is written, on Dress Code in Fredericksburg ISD’s 118-page handbook:

DRESS AND GROOMING (All Grade Levels)

The district’s dress code is established to teach grooming and hygiene, prevent disruption, and minimize safety hazards. Students and parents may determine a student’s personal dress and grooming standards, provided that they comply with the following: - Ok so I love that part, “parent’s may determine a student’s personal dress and grooming standards, provided that they comply..” Thank you for allowing parents to determine how their children dress and groom themselves. But wait, do we really get to do that? Let’s read on.

 The following modes of dress or grooming are PROHIBITED at FISD:

Clothing:

* Clothing that depicts or references alcohol, drugs, tobacco, weapons, nudity, gang affiliation, death, violence, vulgar or obscene language or images, and/or insults to race, religion, gender, or ethnicity  - Ok this makes sense, you want the kids to be respectful of each other.

* Shorts, skirts, dresses above the mid-thigh – Why should the length matter? As long as their private parts are covered who cares? Also, while we are at it lets address the fact that it’s perfectly fine for the cheerleaders, volleyball players, dance team etc. to break this rule because they are wearing a uniform. How is their uniform ok for school, but the average pair of shorts not?

* Pants, shorts, and skirts with holes or excessive frays/slits that expose skin above the bend of the knee – We all know that it is almost impossible to find a pair of jeans/shorts that don’t have holes now a days. Also, seeing the skin of my thigh is not ok, but putting duct tape over it is?

For FHS, only: Pants, shorts, and skirts with holes or excessive fray/slits. – This is pretty open ended, who is to say what is excessive?

* Pants, shorts, and skirts worn below the waist (“sagging” garments are not acceptable) - Ok we all get this one, nobody wants to see your underwear hanging out all day.

* Immodestly undersized pants, shorts, and skirts – Wasn’t this already addressed with the mid-thigh rule above? Who is to say what is “immodest”?

* Yoga pants, leggings or exercise clothing without a shirt that covers the entire buttock area – If a person feels comfortable wearing these types of pants, who are you to say it is not ok?

* Exposed underwear (appropriate undergarments must be worn at all times) – Again this was addressed above by stating no sagging pants. Isn’t this a contradiction? How are you checking to see if students are wearing appropriate undergarments?! Why are you even focusing on what undergarments students are wearing?! The fact that you even have appropriate undergarments this listed is an outrage!

* Exposed midriff or cleavage – No exposed midriff, fine. Cleavage? What this is saying to female students is that if they are busty they are only allowed to wear basic neckline t-shirts or collared button up tops, because if you have breasts you cannot help but have cleavage.

* Spaghetti straps, strapless, transparent, form fitting, tank tops, low cut, loose fitting, muscle shirts (unless worn over an appropriate garment, such as an acceptable tee shirt) – This rule is another contradiction, it can’t be form fitting, yet it can’t be loose fitting? The only part of this that makes sense is not to wear something strapless or see through.

* Sleeveless shirts (males) – Because seeing a boy’s arms is disruptive?

* Straps less than 3” in width (females) – Because seeing a girl’s arms or shoulders is disruptive?

* Oversized or immodestly undersized shirts – Again I ask, who is to say what is immodest, too big or to small? Shouldn’t they feel comfortable in what they wear?

* Wind shorts/biker shorts, cut-off shorts, pajamas, boxer shorts (i.e. Nike, Patagonia style) -No pajamas, we get that. Who is going to wear just boxers? The rest is ridiculous.

* House shoes, slippers, bare feet, cleats, wheels, spinners, steeled toe shoes, etc.  – Etc.? So basically, you are telling the students that if you don’t like their shoes they have can’t wear them? The items listed make sense, so what is the “etc.” about?

* Hats, caps, hoods, bandanas, etc. or sunglasses - Again with the “etc.” leaving it completely open to staff to determine.

* Hats, caps and sunglasses are allowed at FHS, FES, and SES, but are not to be worn in the buildings – Wait, what? Our children can wear these items at every campus EXCEPT the middle school?! Even though the item listed directly above states they cannot?

* Chains hanging from clothing or wallets – This one makes sense, as everyone is afraid of something being used as a weapon these days.

* Clothing or jewelry attire that campaigns or advertises in an offensive manner will not be permitted – Who determines what is “offensive”? If I as a parent allow them to wear it, that is what matters.

* Any inappropriately worn or mode of clothing that is disruptive or related to negative group behavior (gangs, etc.) – Isn’t this rule number one?

 

Grooming: Grooming should not even be listed.

* Hairstyles that are distracting or disruptive (hair must be neatly groomed and shall not obstruct vision) – Yes, the students should be able to see, but “disruptive/distracting” hairstyles? To who? I guarantee the kids are not distracted by hair styles.

* Extreme hair styles such as Mohawk, partially shaved head, wings/designs cut into hair, feathers or non-natural colored hair (green, blue, purple, orange, cherry-red, etc.) – I see no reason for this rule at all. No “hair style” is going to disrupt students in today’s society.

* Slashes in the eyebrows – Is it really important what a student’s eyebrows look like?

* Male hairstyles shall not extend below the bottom of the ear and shall not extend below the bottom of a standard collar, nor can it be in a ponytail (length will be determined with the hairstyle in the position it is normally worn – Again, why are we limiting the male student’s hair style of choice?

* Jewelry- no gauges/spacers; males are not allowed to wear earrings; females may wear earrings in the earlobes only (no Band-Aid covering allowed) – Why are males unable to have earrings? Why does it matter what part of the ear is pierced?

* Facial hair (not allowed; sideburns are limited to the bottom of the earlobe) – No facial hair? This is not a military school.

* No visible tattoos (must be covered) – Tattoos are not taboo anymore.

* No aerosol sprays allowed on campus (i.e. deodorants and hair sprays) – The point of not being able to bring spray on deodorant, body spray or hair spray is what?

* Make up at the elementary campuses – I don’t know anyone who lets their child under 10 wear make-up. Even if they did, it again is a personal parental choice.

* Fake or sculptured/acrylic nails at the elementary campuses – I don’t know anyone who lets their child under 10 wear permanent fake nails. Even if they did it again is a personal parental choice.

Note: Athletic tennis shoes that tie or have Velcro are required for physical education at FES, SES and FPS. – We understand they need athletic shoes for PE.

 

If the principal determines that a student’s grooming or clothing violates the school’s dress code, the student will be given an opportunity to correct the problem at school. If not corrected, the student may be assigned to in-school suspension for the remainder of the day, until the problem is corrected, or until a parent or designee brings an acceptable change of clothing to the school. Repeated offenses may result in more serious disciplinary action in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct. – The principal determines what is and is not a violation of the dress code, instead of parents being allowed to say what is appropriate for their children to wear? Students are removed from class and placed in ISS. You have just taught them that they may not be who they are and have to conform to what you as a principle deem appropriate, regardless of how they have been raised.

The code of conduct for FHS, which is 45 pages long, speak in detail about bullying not being tolerated in our school system. Bullying is also addressed in the handbook. The definition of bullying is “abuse and mistreatment of someone vulnerable by someone stronger or more powerful”, adjective: “prone to or characterized by overbearing mistreatment and domination of others”, noun “acts or written or spoken words intended to intimidate or harass a person”. What you are doing to students is a perfect example of bullying. It is time for us to stand up for our students. Educators need to focus on teaching and stop focusing on judging students based on the way they look. Those who argue that it is to keep students safe are hiding behind a falsehood. You are not keeping students safe by limiting the way they look. Instead you are continuing to teach society that it is ok to judge people based on appearance. Stop teaching hatred and bullying and start teaching compassion and understanding. There is a better way, just look at the Oregon NOW, Model Student Dress Code.

 



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