Why this petition matters
Over time, schools have created student dress codes to help with a wide range of issues. For example, in the late 1960s and 70s, boys with long hair were sometimes physically attacked by their classmates, so as a result, most schools required young men to have their hair cut to their ears or shorter. In recent years, a desire to stop conflict over designer labels and create a more “professional” environment at schools resulted in dress codes and uniforms becoming more popular.
A couple of years ago, student dress codes made news headlines because several groups of students (mostly made up of girls began to question and protest school dress codes because they thought that the rules were unfair. Their words quickly spread through social media and news articles. The students said, (1) the dress codes unfairly target girls and transgender students; (2) they send a message to girls that if they are harassed by boys, it is their fault; (3) they feel judged and shamed by the dress codes; and (4) that a different standard is applied to girls who are more curvy and developed than other girls.
One of these examples took place at Haven Middle School in Evanston, Illinois, where over 500 students signed a petition opposing what they had been told was a full ban on leggings and yoga pants. Many girls wore yoga pants or leggings in defiance of the ban. “Not being able to wear leggings because it’s ‘too distracting for boys’ is giving us the impression we should be guilty for what guys do,” Sophie Hasty, a 7th grader at the school says, “We just want to be comfortable!”
When schools ban certain items like leggings or midriff-baring tops, it sends a negative and impactful message to all genders in and of the school. Girls are sometimes told that their clothing is too distracting and boys can't pay attention. 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 aren't the ones who are responsible for their own actions.
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 are usually the ones who have to leave their classes to go home and change whereas males may need to make minor adjustments. For example, a common item on some schools' dress codes is no baggy pants or vulgar t-shirts. To fix the problem, the student simply just has to pull up their pants or wear their 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 their education.