Texas Public School Dress Codes - Stop Sexualizing Teen Girls!
Texas Public School Dress Codes - Stop Sexualizing Teen Girls!
I am currently a junior attending one of North East Independent School District’s high schools in San Antonio, TX. On September 7th, 2021 a text message and email was sent out to all parents of NEISD students stating “Boys are not allowed to wear tank tops. Girls must fully cover the midriff area.” Throughout all the years I have attended NEISD schools, they have enforced a dress code that isn’t fair to all students.
Feminine peers are asked to cover their shoulders and midriff, are not allowed to wear ripped jeans unless they wear leggings underneath, and may not wear shorts, skirts or dresses that do not meet fingertip length when hands are held at sides, and are not allowed to show cleavage. Masculine peers are only asked to not wear saggy pants, to not wear clothing with profanity, provocative figures, and to not wear tank tops.
Even though these rules are in place, the male dress code is more lightly enforced than the female dress code. Any emails which have been sent to parents, or announcements made by administrators at schools, have put much more enforcement on the female dress code than the male.
Not only is there a concerning difference in how male and female students are being held accountable to the dress code, the rules in place for females put an undue level of stress on clothing “being a distraction”. These rules are put into place by adults who are far more “distracted” by clothing and style than the teenagers the rules apply to. As high schoolers, our days are occupied by classwork and tests, learning material and trying to pass our classes so that we can move on to our adult lives. We are on the whole, not nearly concerned enough with what our fellow students are wearing to justify rules of this nature. Especially rules which are sexualizing teen girls and holding them responsible for “distracting” others.
In San Antonio, there are seven out of twelve months with an average temperature higher than 80 degrees Fahrenheit. For female students to be required to wear additional clothing so that we don’t “distract” is ridiculous. We do not dress for the appeal of others. We wear cropped shirts, tank tops, ripped jeans, shorts, skirts, etc. to be comfortable in triple-digit temperatures. We focus better when we are not sweltering in heat. We are able to concentrate on schoolwork when we are not sweating from every pore.
If the argument against wearing comfortable clothing is that the female body is a distraction, adults should remember WE ARE TEENAGERS! We should not be a distraction to anyone, especially not the adults placing that label on us. The fact that our body could be considered a distraction is inappropriate - we are being sexualized when all we ask is to be comfortable.
Many of my male peers have told me that they have not been distracted by their female classmates. I refuse to take responsibility for another person’s thoughts. I am not causing them to think what they are thinking. For the one or two boys who might not be able to control themselves and become “distracted,” my comfort should not mean less than my education. Those people being “distracted” should focus on themselves. Being pulled out of a class and told to change when I am minding my own business and focusing on my lessons, is more of a distraction than my crop top.
We should not have to dress ourselves for male peers to be able to pay attention. More importantly, if the way I dress distracts a teacher, maybe they should not be working with children.
Here are some of the experiences my classmates have endured concerning the NEISD dress code:
—”I was walking to class and my shirt was rolled up because it was a hot day. My principal had stopped me in the middle of the hallway to ask me if my shirt went any lower and refused to let me walk to class until I rolled my shirt down.”
—”It was winter and I had been wearing a beanie around school because it helped keep me warm. When I was walking through the halls my counselor had gotten mad at me and told me I was out of dress code. After a little bit I put the beanie back on because my hair was messy from wearing it all day, but then my counselor followed me to my next class and took my beanie from me and told me that she wouldn’t let me have it back unless my parents came to pick it up.”
—“It was hot outside, I was wearing ripped jeans with holes below the knee and as I was going to my 4th period, my teacher interrupted the class to pull me out and put me in ISS for not only one but two days.”
—‘I was wearing a cropped shirt when it was almost 100 degrees outside and my teacher had asked me to pull my shirt down. After he noticed that I couldn’t, he gave me a large shirt to change into when I was supposed to be going to class.”
—”While I was walking to class, an AP had been running around the school dress coding multiple girls, he would forcefully grab them by their arms to take them to the AP office and force them to change.”
—”Recently I wore a shirt that went up a little bit and the teacher was staring at the little skin that was showing on my stomach and told me, ‘You shouldn’t wear that shirt again to school or I’ll write it up next time.’ Another time I was wearing a shirt that had a little bit of my chest exposed and this one female student was like ‘is that shirt even allowed’ and she and another kid and the teacher spent like 5 minutes discussing my top.”
For reference of my school district's current student dress code policy, please follow this link: https://www.neisd.net/cms/lib/TX02215002/Centricity/Domain/5873/NEISD-DressCode.pdf
This petition is the first step I am taking to ask the NEISD Board of Directors to review the dress code policy to make it more equitable and remove the inference that female teenage students are responsible for the thoughts and performance of our peers. Please take a moment to sign this petition if you agree with my argument. My goal is to reach 10,000 signatures. While I am gathering signatures I will be working on researching the psychological effects of dress codes so that I can present proposed changes to the NEISD Board of Directors. One of the goals of our Superintendent, Dr. Maika, is to promote mental health awareness. It is time to question whether or not these dress code policies are truly reducing distraction in schools or if they contribute to low self esteem, poor self image, and unfair treatment of children. Thank you for your support!