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“We are told by our administrators to send non-compliance issues to the office, but I only refer kids who are clearly wearing too tight or uncomfortable clothing, and I send them to the nurse, who keeps a stash of extra clothing for this type of situation,” explains Kutzer.
These things are distracting to other students, particularly males.
Girlhood expert Shauna Pomerantz of Brock University says that “dress coding” students for being distracting is a form of victim-blaming. Your body is causing negativity,” explains Pomerantz.
Sexist rules also set a precedent for men, she adds. It suggests they don’t have the ability to talk to a female student without going wild.” Marci Kutzer, a fourth-grade teacher at Bertha Ronzone Elementary in Las Vegas, Nevada, says that, while school boards couch dress codes as preparing students for the workplace and adult life, their real purpose is to prevent “distractions.” Kutzer says that sends a powerful message: “A boy’s education can be compromised by your gender.
Please do what you can to neutralize it.” This clearly puts a burden on female students.
Kutzer noticed that it essentially targets female and minority students—the focus being on on parts of the female anatomy, like backs, shoulders, and legs.
A 2018 study by the National Women’s Law Center found that Black girls in District of Columbia schools are singled out by unfair dress codes, which, when enforced, can cause them to fall behind in school.“Targeting styles of clothing that are mostly associated with a particular minority group is discriminatory.When styles such as ‘sagging pants’ are the issue, we are putting a burden predominantly on black males,” says Kutzer.Despite the rules being the same for every girl, teachers end up enforcing the rules more strictly with black females, and in a way that is humiliating.Many dress codes can cause black students to fall behind academically, according to a 2018 National Women’s Law Center study.“My white friends rarely get sent to the office, but my black friends do quite often,” says Reeser.Another student said she brought up this issue to a male administrator, who told her it was “because white girls don’t have as much to show.” The student says this comment made her feel uncomfortable, let along failing to address the inequality.Another notorious dress code rule is the “finger-tip policy.” Female students must wear skirts or shorts that go past their fingertips. And making the policy even more frustrating is that there isn’t a dress code for high school.While this seems straightforward, students and parents report that for some, it’s impossible to find clothing that complies with the rule. It’s impossible to find shorts that are remotely fashionable and below her finger tips. A post shared by Catherine Pearlman (@catherinepearlman) on In Duval County, Florida, Nikki Belsham says that she’s been struggling with this rule since she was in school, and now her daughter is facing the same dilemma.Looking at public schools in the District of Columbia, the report found that three in four D. public high school dress codes say students can be pulled out of class or school for dress code violations.Resources from NEA’s Center for Social Justice Learn more about sexual harassment policies in schools Help your school empower girls, end sexual harassment and assault, and protect students’ civil rights “It’s outrageous that girls are losing critical class time simply for what they are wearing,” said NWLC Education Fellow and report co-author, Kayla Patrick.