Viewpoints: Is it fair to create dress code standards based on gender?

Rules accommodate differences

By Venisa Wang

Staff Writer

Student dress codes have been part of American schools’ policies since the 1920s, according to Scholastic. Over the decades, the different dress standards for males and females have sparked controversy over the issue of gender inequality and discrimination.

However, dress codes hold all students to the same expectations, and variations in the rules are appropriately made to accommodate each gender’s typical ward-
robe.

According to the student handbook, of the ten rules that make up the dress code policy at Gabrielino High School, seven apply to all students regardless of their gender. For example, both males and females are prohibited from wearing clothing or accessories that promote drugs, sex, violence, or gangs.

Only three of the dress code rules are gender-specific, and they concern “revealing tops” and pants that sag below the hips.

But even these rules, which are catered to the particular clothing articles of girls and boys, are based on the common expectation that students will not wear outfits that expose their undergarments.

Those who deem dress codes discriminatory and unjust overlook the fact that at their core, dress codes are created to serve the same purpose of encouraging professionalism and maintaining safety on campus.

Enforcing these policies can reduce social conflict that is associated with appearance. School dress codes prevent students from wearing offensive or provocative clothing that can cause bullying and disputes.

David Brownsman, a Virginia Tech sociologist, conducted a study that showed that schools that implemented a dress code saw a visibly larger decrease in the social pressures on children. Instead of bullying and teasing between peers, schools witnessed “better grades, better behavior, increased self-esteem and school pride” amongst their students.

Therefore, current dress standards are beneficial for students’ protection and well-being. Dress codes are specificed for each gender only when necessary, and they are not meant to restrict students from expressing themselves. Rather, they simply remind girls and boys to dress to professionally.

Opposers of the gender-based characteristics of dress codes must recognize that there is reason behind such differences. Moreover, the primary goals of dress standards remain equal across the board for all students.

School dress codes help to teach students the significance of dressing for success, which is a lesson that can greatly improve both their self-worth and self-esteem.

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