By Chris Henry
Last March, a friend of mine was in the middle of class when her teacher received a call demanding that she report to the office immediately. What could be so urgent? Was there a family emergency? No, someone with authority just felt that her top was cut a little too low and took half an hour out of her education to tell her that. Although I’ve never personally been cited for violating the LCHS dress code, far too many of my fellow students have, specifically the girls. Policies like it are pretty common in schools across the country, generally targeting females whom administrators believe distract their male classmates by showing too much skin, or, as the dress code at LCHS states, fail to “reflect good judgement”. This practice isn’t only degrading to young women by promoting prejudice, but insulting to guys as well--as if we’re too primitive to control ourselves on a day-to-day basis.
At its core, the dress code is just a symptom of a larger problem that’s plagued our society for centuries: the superficial objectification of women and girls. LCHS assistant principal Mary Hazlett justifies the policy by explaining how she “would hope that a school with top test scores would dress with quality”, and “reflect the values of their community” in their choice of clothing. While these statements may come from the best of intentions, they imply that those students who are reprimanded by the administration for violating the dress code, mainly female students, may be lacking quality and values. Students deserve a school that displays mutual respect and understanding, not prejudice. By calling out girls who dress a certain way, the administration sends the message that it’s okay to judge the character of women by their outward appearance instead of their minds.
The actual code itself is incredibly vague, stating that “shorts must be of appropriate length for a learning environment”, but who decides that? In some cultures, shorts of any length on a woman are considered scandalous, while other societies have practically no restrictions. Many schools claim that clothing policies are necessary to keep female students from distracting their male classmates, although these notions are little more than baseless stereotypes. In Southern California, guys like myself have grown up around girls and young women wearing clothing which administrators would say is “cute for the beach, not for school”; it’s not exactly unusual. In fact, these policies are an insult to males in general; implying that we’re too primitive and dense to control ourselves in daily life. In the event that a student isn’t advanced enough to control himself at the sight of another person’s thigh, that’s his problem to deal with, not theirs. Students constantly come to class in tank tops, crop tops, and shorts which violate the “fingertip rule”, yet as anyone can see from our latest test scores, we’re still learning in this environment just fine. So why are administrators trying so hard to fix what’s not broken?
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