Students are waging war on sexist and racist school dress codes — and they’re winning (Vox)
Traditional dress codes punish marginalized students disproportionately, but this anti-racist, anti-sexist dress code could fix that.
By Nadra Nittle, Vox, September 13, 2018
Emma Stein was just a freshman when she was cited for a dress code violation at her school, suburban Chicago’s Evanston Township High School. A security guard said her dress was too short, so Stein had to pull a pair of sweatpants over her clothes. She was not punished for the infraction, but it was still a really upsetting experience.
“It added a level of insecurity to this already stressful time,” Stein recalled.
Stein wasn’t the only one troubled by the dress code at the 3,700-student school. In 2016, students staged a protest demanding a new policy that didn’t discriminate along gender or racial lines.
And the school’s administration listened.
“We needed to look at getting a new dress code, and we wanted to make sure it was body-positive and didn’t marginalize students,” the school’s principal, Marcus Campbell, said.
In 2017, Evanston Township High School debuted its new dress code, which permitted tank tops, leggings, hats, and other previously banned items. The policy also stated that students were not to be marginalized based on race, class, gender, sexual orientation, or other identity markers.
The story of Evanston Township High School’s dress code is an increasingly common one. As dress code controversies sweep the education system, parents and students are fighting back against policies that they see as sexist, racist, or both. And more and more schools are listening to these protests, adopting guidelines that reflect a new understanding of what constitutes “appropriate” student dress.