Paradise High School's Dress Code is Outdated and Discriminatory

Paradise High School's Dress Code is Outdated and Discriminatory

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Clayton Smith started this petition to Paradise TX School Board and

     The dress code at Paradise High School in Paradise, Texas is extremely old-fashioned and does not take into consideration the changing dynamics of our time, specifically the many ways that young students are now choosing to express themselves. I am sure that it is not the school board’s intention to cause students’ to feel uncomfortable in their own bodies or in the clothes they are forced to wear, but the fact of the matter is that many students of Paradise High School- past and present- including myself, go to school every day feeling extremely dissatisfied and uncomfortable with the limited options of clothing and hairstyles that we are given by the dress code of Paradise High School. The outdated dress code discriminates based on the sex of the students, favors people with certain body types over others, and incorporates rules that have no business being included other than to unnecessarily control students’ lives even further. This extremely restrictive dress code not only implies that high school students are incapable of coping in a learning environment where shoulders or backs are exposed, but it causes teachers to have to take time away from their jobs to write up a student for something so simple as frayed denim.

     Four out of the sixteen sections in the dress code contain rules that discriminate against students based on their sex. Section 2 states that “Sleeveless shirts or blouses may be worn by girls but must have a shoulder strap width of 2.5 inches… with backs completely covered,” the backs and shoulders of teenagers are not and have never been sexual or distracting and there is no reason to force them to dig through shelf after shelf at the clothing store to find clothes that fit this ridiculous requirement. Section 2 goes on to say that “Boys will wear shirts with sleeves. Tank tops and muscle shirts are NOT allowed." Why should boys be kept from wearing tank tops and muscle shirts, especially in this hot Texas weather? There is also nothing inherently sexual or distracting about these items of clothing. Section 6 states that “Body piercing adornments are limited to female ears. No earrings shall be worn by boys, including spacers or other items used in pierced ears or Band-Aids covered earrings. Inappropriate, excessive, or distracting jewelry will be removed upon request," this rule hardly makes any sense. Why should girls be able to wear earrings, but boys shouldn't? There is nothing wrong with a boy wearing earrings, this rule is nothing but outdated and unnecessary. Section 8 states that "male students should be clean-shaven at all times," and section 9 states that "hair for male students will be cut so that it is off the collar, above the eyebrows, and ears are completely visible, with no tails or braids at all times. Hair thickness will not exceed 2' on the top of the head and 1' on the sides and back of the head." Telling kids how to style their hair is blocking them from their freedom to express themselves and these rules have no place in modern-day dress codes. Why should it matter if a boy wants to grow out a beard or mustache, or if he wants to grow his hair long? What good does it do to force a kid to chop off their hair for breaking rules that have no reason to be there in the first place? Kids should be free to wear whatever clothes they want and wear their hair however they want to, as long as they do these things in a way that does not show off inappropriate body parts. 

     Many students at Paradise have been discriminated against based on their body types due to the dress code. Section 1 of the dress code states that “the length [of shorts and skorts] must be no shorter than the longest fingertip…” and section 7 states that “Skirts, dresses, shorts, and slits in skirts, dresses, and shorts must be no shorter than the longest fingertip when arms are extended and hands held flat against the leg," because of these rules, tall students who do not fit perfectly into average-sized, store-bought clothes have been sent to ISS or forced to change because their shorts aren't fingertip length, or their stomachs show when they raise their hands. This is another reason why the code concerning clothes should be changed so that clothes are deemed appropriate as long as they don't reveal inappropriate body parts.

     There are two more sections in the code of conduct that are unnecessary. Section 3 states that “no caps, hats, sweatbands, bandanas, or headwear may be worn in any building on campus during school hours. When taken up, they become property of the principle.” It's plain and simple that these items should be allowed to be worn by any student who wishes to express themselves by wearing them. There is no reason to keep students from wearing headwear as long as it doesn't impede their hearing or have inappropriate symbols on it. Finally, section 16 states that "clothing should be free of holes." So many jeans in today's clothing lines are premade with holes in them, some students even accidentally tear holes in their clothes. There is no reason to make them cover the holes up or change clothes unless the holes are showing inappropriate parts of their body, caring about harmless holes in clothes is strange and makes no logical sense. 

     So what would an appropriate and inclusive dress code look like? Seattleschools.org gives a great answer in their suggestion of a symbol and to-the-point dress code: 

"Students must wear:

Top (shirt, blouse, sweater, sweatshirt, tank, etc.);

Bottom (pants, shorts, skirt, dress, etc.); and

Footwear

As detailed in the policy, students may not wear attire that intentionally shows private parts, presents a health or safety hazard, and/or would contribute to a hostile or intimidating school environment." 

Yes, it really should be as simple as that. With a dress code such as this, students would be allowed to freely express themselves, while keeping within the boundaries of what is appropriate for people of their age. We know that a dress code like this, students would be happier and more comfortable, and because of this, grades and productivity will go way up and unnecessary ISS visits or visits to the principal's office will go way down. 

     Many parents and students have taken these issues to the school board to try and change these rules. However, the school board always brushes it aside. Many of the other school districts in the county and the general area have all done away with these old fashioned rules. For the past few years, the Paradise area has been growing quickly in population, the school itself has almost doubled the sizes of each class, change is happening quickly. Extreme dress code restrictions should not be in place in modern society. Students should be able to openly express themselves through fashion. This new decade is all about change. The entire world has had massive amounts of change for the worst in the past year. Shouldn't there be some good changes as well? In this modern world, students deserve to have the ability to be who they want to be and dress how they want to dress. A young boy should not be sent to detention because his hair is 2 inches longer than it is supposed to be. A girl should not have to spend 3 days in ISS for wearing jeans with a hole in one knee. Fashion is being modernized. Rules should be less restrictive to match that. I'm not saying that the Paradise School Board should let students walk around naked. No, I'm saying that the Paradise School Board should allow students to style their hair how they want to, to wear modern clothing as they should be allowed to, to be able to express themselves not only with their voices but with their sense of fashion.

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