Perkiomen Valley School District Update the School Dress Code
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Following is a letter I have drafted to our school board. The current dress code policy in the Perkiomen Valley School District is outdated and not in line with school board policies. I appreciate all the support and hope that parents, teachers and students will join me in calling for an update to the policy.
On January 17th, my daughter had the unique experience of being complimented by a teacher for looking nice and “professional” and then dress coded by a Cafeteria Monitor. There is an inherent problem with the dress code policy when a student can receive two such divergent messages regarding her clothing.
I believe the dress code policy in the current student handbook does not align with that set forth in school board policy 221. Within the school board code it states that “The Superintendant or designee shall ensure that all rules implementing this policy are applied consistently across levels and impose only the minimum necessary restrictions on the exercise of the student’s taste and individuality”. This is not happening.
With regards to consistency, the current handbook policy is disproportionately imposed against girls. Not only that, but within the female population, the policy is imposed markedly against more full figured girls. For instance, while the handbook policy states bare shoulders are not permitted, a girl wearing a tank top is much more likely to be dress coded than a boy in a muscle shirt, despite BOTH types of shirts being considered unacceptable. Additionally, a girl is more likely to be told her bra strap is showing than a boy told his boxer shorts can be seen above his waistband.
The current handbook policy is very restrictive. Given the current fashion styles today and over the last 30 years, finding clothes within the parameters of the policy is very difficult. Finding clothes within the policy that also reflect a student’s taste and individuality is impossible. If you have a daughter who is full figured, you are condemning her to wear oversized t-shirts and sweatshirts throughout her school life. Forcing a student to hide their body in shame does nothing more than create body image issues.
Given the way this policy is enforced, there are many parents in the district who feel, as I do, that the current handbook policy is not only sexist against the girls in our student body, but also extremely damaging to the emotional health of the young women in the district. In a time when sexual harassment issues are so prevalent in the news, why is our school district perpetuating the discrimination against our female students? When there is such an effort being put forth by doctors, psychologists, and responsible businesses like CVS to end body shaming and teach girls to love themselves and their bodies, why is our school district teaching our girls that they should be ashamed and hide their bodies?
I write to you today because I KNOW our district is better than that. I understand that sometimes, when not living it day to day, problems are not as noticeable. But this is a problem that our girls face every morning when they dress for school. I would like to see the district make updating the dress code a priority. I believe that the district should seek out input from the whole community; teachers, parents and even students. I believe that every girl in the district needs to know that we respect them for the learner they are, not the shape of their body or how they dress. It’s time we did the dress code differently.
Thank you for taking the time to support the girls in our district.
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