Update outdated and individuality suppressing Dress Codes
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This is a petition to Fresno Unified School District, FUSD Education Board, and Superintendent to update outdated and individuality supressing dress codes.
As a parent of two children that attend FUSD, a third on the way that will also attend FUSD, as well as being an alumni of Bullard High School, not only am I familiar with the dress code policy, I have also witnessed its shortcomings first hand.
Let me first start by stating that I understand the sentiments behind feeling that a code of conduct for appearance is necessary. I completely understand that the dress code was created out of a need to teach children the importance of maintaining pride in their appearance. However, in my experience, the dress code has created more disciplinary issues, more pressure to conform among students, and highly suppresses individuality and culture.
I am requesting that parts of the dress code that stifle individuality, personal expression, and culture be discussed with an end goal of removal. I have included the Dress Code Policy specifics and have bolded the items that I feel are outdated and trivial in relation to the education process.
- Head wear, other than hats or caps, will not be allowed at school. Hats and/or caps must be removed in the classrooms or offices and worn in the appropriate manner.
- Sunglasses are not to be worn in the classrooms, offices, or other school facilities (unless prescribed by a physician).
- Shoes must be worn on campus and at school functions. Sandals must have heel straps. Thongs, flip-flops or backless shoes or sandals are not acceptable.
- Underwear-type sleeveless shirts, tube tops, halter tops, spaghetti straps, and sagging or bagging pants, pants that do not fit the waist, or radically altered or frayed clothing are not acceptable.
- Any see-through clothing, clothing that reveals a bare midriff or chest, or clothes that expose the body in a sexually suggestive manner shall not be worn. (I would like this section defined. Who decides what is "sexually suggestive"? When did it become a teacher's job to look at a minor and decide if their clothing is "sexually suggestive"? The idea of an adult faculty member judging and sexualizing my child disgusts me and is completely unacceptable.)
- Dresses, skirts, and shorts are acceptable as long as they are extended no more than four (4") above the knee. Shorts are to be hemmed and not form fitting. Sports wear type shorts, bike shorts(spandex), gym shorts, and frayed shorts are unacceptable. (Why is length determined across the board? What about tall kids or curvier kids? This makes shopping for school clothes close to impossible unless your child is short and thin. Or is the length thing about sexualization again? Why are adults trying to decide what is sexually suggestive on a CHILD?)
- Attire which may be used as a weapon may not be worn, including but not limited to steel toed boots, chains, items with spikes or studs, and other items deeded inappropriate by the principal and/or school site council.
- Fashions that draw undue attention to the wearer detract from the educational environment and are not acceptable. This includes exotic clothing, extreme make-up, body piercing, military or camouflage attire, etc.
- Body piercing (eyebrows, nose, lips, tongue, navel) is not acceptable. (These are legal on minors over the age of 15 with parental consent in California. Is this in here for safety reasons?)
- Hair styles which draw undue attention detract from the educational environment and not acceptable; i.e. unusual designs, colors, mohawks, tails, or unusual razor cuts.
My personal belief is that certain aspects of these dress codes create more of a distraction than would initially be there. Kids are drawn to what they aren't allowed to do or what is unusual to see. If it is something that they are regularly exposed to, it becomes normal and even accepted. I'm not trying to justify allowing anything drug or violence related or anything that could jeopardize physical safety, but I am trying to open your mind to the idea that things like hair color, hair style, makeup, head wear, sports wear, and more, are trivial and are only "unusual" because they have not been allowed. I know that personally my children work harder, focus, and want to do their best when they feel the most comfortable and supported. When they get to unapologetically be themselves, they succeed.
In society today, huge corporations like Starbucks are changing their dress codes to allow individuality and personal style. If major, multi-million dollar corporations are noticing that their policies are outdated, why aren't schools following suit to prepare kids for the workforce? Isn't the main goal to educate students and prepare them for life after school? If that is the case, why are we teaching them that conforming and competence is more important than developing personal values, adaptability, and flexibility in problem solving? I know that may seem like an extreme way to view it, but reality is, that is what is happening.
Before you ask me to look at studies on Dress Code vs None, Dress Code vs Uniform, etc., I have already done so. Everything that I have read points out that there is inconclusive results as to whether or not a dress code or uniform is better or worse for the learning environment. I have included a list of key points and links to articles that I found helpful when reading about this issue.
Research Articles for Reading:
- “Dress Codes teach students that conformity is more important than adaptability and do not prepare young people for the workplace and its emphasis on flexibility and problem-solving”
- “Dress codes teach students that conformity and obedience to authority are most important. Individuality is suppressed. Student voice is suppressed.”
- “Public schools are supposed to prepare students to participate in and contribute to American society. One way to succeed is to assimilate into the mainstream: to develop competence and internalize certain values. This means that conformity is the rule and students fit in or are left behind.”
- “So, far from putting all students on equal footing, dress codes disproportionately affect certain students more than others and the idea that a dress code will prevent students from noticing difference is laughable.”
- “Claiming that dress codes prevent “sexualization” of girls seems more like a paternalistic excuse given by people who are uncomfortable…, or by others who themselves draw sexual conclusions about teens in certain outfits.”
- “What is more common is that dress codes pass on the basis of arguments like those about the decrease in discipline problems, without taking into account the added discipline that is now required to maintain them, and the unfair enforcement that often follows.”
- “Whether it be because they have bought into the dress code rationale or because they face consequences from their administration if they don’t, many teachers feel that they must assert themselves on this issue. So no, it does not make our jobs easier. What it does is turn teachers in to police and students into suspects with even less power than is already inherently built into most school hierarchies.”
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