Cover Up, or You’re Going Home! A Plea for Less Restrictive Dress Codes Nationwide


Gazi Fuad

A group of Bronx Science students enjoy the warm fall weather. At Bronx Science, students are given some freedom in clothing choices, unlike as at some schools across the country.

Ashamed, embarrassed, and most of all, furious. These are the typical emotions of girls after getting called out of class and forced to change into different clothes. Who dictates what is appropriate to wear and what is not? What allows an administrator to tell a girl that her over-sized sweater is distracting?

Recently, dress codes around the country have come under scrutiny. Girls have been sent home for their collar bones peaking out from underneath their shirts, wearing leggings with a shirt that covers their entire backside, or daring to wear a skirt that lies a centimeter above where their fingertips fall.

“By enforcing strict dress codes, schools teach girls that their comfort and education is less important than their male counterparts. No boy should be distracted by shoulders, said Klara Wichterle ‘17.

Parents teach young children to be kind to others and treat them how they want to be treated. When did the teachers, who are supposed to protect us, turn into the bullies? Did their parents not teach them how to treat others? Aren’t they supposed to have the best interests of their students in mind? In many schools, unfortunately, this is not the case. At some schools, the administration often makes girls feel uncomfortable in their own skin.

“By enforcing strict dress codes, schools teach girls that their comfort and education is less important than their male counterparts. No boy should be distracted by shoulders, said Klara Wichterle ‘17.

Not only does the dress code humiliate girls when they are removed from class in front of all their peers, but additionally, girls lose precious time that could be spent learning in the classroom. Missing class, especially in high school,  is a big deal. “During each class, many new topics are covered, and missing class causes girls to fall behind in the curriculum for no reason. I was taken out of class in middle school and missed a lot for that day,” said  Ellery Weiner ’18.

These girls have to spend additional time catching up on what they missed, and for what? Since when do bare shoulders inhibit boys from receiving their education? It doesn’t, but taking girls out of class inhibits them from receiving theirs. The result of restrictive dress codes ends up valuing boys’ education over girls’ educations Shoulders should not be enough to take away a girl’s right to education. “I think it is awful that girls are so greatly penalized for what they wear. Many times what they wear is appropriate for school, yet they are called out and penalized. I believe Bronx Science has been very fair about the dress code, and I really appreciate that,” said Sabrina Scollar ’17.

Luckily, girls are no longer willing to be objectified and publicly humiliated. They are fighting back against the double standards and gender bias in schools. Middle-schoolers in New Jersey, tired of being shamed for wearing comfortable clothes during warmer weather, launched a campaign under the hashtag #IAmMoreThanADistraction to challenge schools to focus their attention on reducing objectification of the female body.

In addition to the New Jersey students, teens in Portland made a documentary discussing the challenges of complying with extremely strict dress codes. They discussed how girls have to go out and buy new clothes to comply, and for economically challenged families, this is not possible. Therefore, these girls are sent home from school. Both the students in New Jersey and Portland were recognized by their administrations and the dress codes were reexamined. Many places still are enforcing overly punative dress codes, and I hope in the coming months more students will speak out and make a difference!