Change Sarasota High School's Sexist Dresscode

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On Wednesday April 14th Sarasota High School Started enforcing their dress code, thus, leaving many taken aback due to the fact we are 3/4s through the academic year, in the middle of a global pandemic, and summer weather has begun in Florida.

After being dress coded for my shoulders, I was sent to the cafeteria with at least 25 other young women experiencing the same issue. We were given the option to have a relative bring a change of clothes or miss a full day's worth of school in ISS. Both of my parents work full time and I take four AICE classes so neither were a viable option for me. To make use of the valuable learning time I'm missing due to my bare shoulders, I've decided to make this petition for the other young women at SHS experiencing the same issue.

I present to you my case for why Sarasota High School's Dresscode is sexist:

**Ideas used from other girls who were dress coded and from my own personal research**

Double-Standard
When schools ban specific items like leggings or midriff-baring tops, it sends a negative message to both genders of the student body. Girls are sometimes told that their clothing is too distracting and boys can't pay attention. However, this kind of language is sexist and many anti-dress code advocates point out that it sends a message to the male student body that they are not solely responsible for their actions.

Disrupting Education
It should also be noted that while the policy may state that any student should be removed from class if said student violates the dress code, females typically have to leave class to go home and change whereas males may need to make minor adjustments. For example, a common item on the school dress code is no baggy pants or vulgar t-shirts. To fix the violation, a student merely has to pull up his pants or wear his t-shirt inside out. However, equally common is the ban on leggings. Female students are frequently sent home because to fix the violation, they have to change. Not only is this embarrassing, but it disrupts her education.

Freedom of Speech
Unfortunately, school policies that enforce strict rules for what students should wear also tend to violate students' freedom of speech. As the ACLU points out, a landmark case dating all the way back to 1969 actually upholds a students' right to freedom of speech through what a student chooses to wear.

Difficult to Enforce
Dress codes are notoriously difficult to enforce, for a variety of reasons. Not only can they be subjective (ie what one teacher thinks is fine, another teacher thinks is a violation), but enforcement frequently has a way of upsetting both parents and students. While some schools can and do enforce dress codes successfully, more often than not, insisting on dress code policies pits school administrators, and parents and students against each other. This is particularly true if said policies violate the rights to freedom of speech or religious expression.

The Negatives Outweigh the Positives
From targeting and harming girls, to violating freedoms of religious expression, school dress codes can often do more harm than good. They frequently aren't followed, administration spends a lot of time and effort enforcing them, and when law suits are brought to court, the schools generally lose.

Administration is Sexualizing Children

With young girls as targets for being sexualized by dress codes, it can be incredibly detrimental to our self-image and confidence. When we are told that their choice of expression may distract classmates and staff, more often than not this refers to the male classmates and staff who seem to need to be sheltered from girls' and women's bodies.Such comments over students' attire objectifies the child's body and blames the person wearing clothes, rather than the people who perceive a young girls' shoulders or knees as distracting.

 

Public school dress codes should be eradicated from the school systems. Treating each other with respect should be the main principle of any school, not body-shaming one gender into modest submission fit for traditional patriarchal values. It’s time public schools recognize girls and boys as equals, and begin to treat them as equals if this world ever intends to get better. At the end of the day I want to feel comfortable in my learning environment. School should be a safe place for me and my fellow classmates. Please share and sign this petition!