The year is 2017, and young women are still being criticized and body-shamed for what they wear in a school setting. Just think, students spend the majority of their adolescence in hallways, classrooms, cafeterias, gymnasiums — even more so than they do in their own homes. So it’s crucial that all students — female, male, and transgender alike — feel comfortable in their environment and the clothes they wear. But while a handful of institutions continue to harshly police young women’s attire for a number of ridiculous reasons, there are a select few, like Evanston Township High School’s dress code, taking a stand against body-shaming.
Above all things, young women seek equality from their administrations. It is a rarity that male students are sent home for wearing muscle t-shirts that expose their chests, or baggy jeans that hang loosely below the waistline. Oftentimes, they are issued a verbal warning or are told to pull up their pants without any consequences, while young women are verbally harassed, sent home, or worse. So, rather than stick to the status quo, this Illinois school recognized the faults in their policy and corrected them in a way that protects all genders against sexist regulations.
Evanston Township High School’s new dress code is 100 percent gender-neutral.
Normally, when an institution revamps their code of conduct, you’ll maybe notice a tweak or two buried in the meat of the copy. Evanston Township High School, however, administered a completely new document, and wasted no time to specify their progressive changes. The introduction states,
Evanston Township High School’s student dress code supports equitable educational access and is written in a manner that does not reinforce stereotypes and that does not reinforce or increase marginalization or oppression of any group based on race, sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, cultural observance, household income or body type/size.
Yup, I think that about covers it.
The school also recognizes that how a young woman dresses should not have to depend on the attention it will draw from her male classmates.
It is a shameful precedent that our school systems are setting for young women when their dress code is bulleted with clothing bans in order to ensure young men stay focused on their school work. Instructing female students to “cover up” insinuates that they are some kind of “distraction,” which is not only unfair, but it’s also sexist, and students have been fighting back for years.
For example, in 2015, teachers and administrators employed by the Charleston County School of the Arts in North Charleston, South Carolina had been ordered to send girls violating the dress code out of class. As a sign of peaceful protest, Reese Fischer encouraged her female classmates to wear t-shirts branded with bold, scarlet letters.
Fischer wrote in an Instagram post,
The dress code is important as it promotes a comfortable and professional learning environment.
However, there is nothing comfortable or professional about being told you’re ‘asking for it’ or ‘selling yourself in the wrong way’ or being told your body is ‘gross.’
No woman, no matter her age, should ever be told she’s “asking for it” by wearing a scoop-neck blouse, or that her off-the-shoulder shirt is a distraction in a learning environment. To make this distinction clear, Evanston Township High School’s dress code states that “cleavage should not have coverage requirements,” and that every gender must cover their genitals, buttocks, breasts, and nipples at all times. Hey, that seems pretty fair to me.
Of course, there are restrictions, but these are completely reasonable on both sides of the spectrum.
There’s no denying that some school dress codes have gotten out of hand, but there are some rules and regulations that should be adhered to no matter what gender you identify with. So, while it’s awesome that clothing like ripped jeans, tight pants (leggings FTW), tank tops, halters, and religious headwear are now acceptable in the halls of Evanston Township High School, what this school is against is equally respectable.
According to the new dress code, garments that contain “images or language that create a hostile or intimidating environment based on any protected class or consistently marginalized groups” are a no-go.
Finally, a dress code we can all agree on.