The regulation of students’ attire has always been a controversial topic among teachers, students and parents. Dress codes are less restrictive compared to uniforms as educational institutions guide students on what they should and should not wear. Dress code rules promote a safe and disciplined school environment that advocates for uniformity in students' dressing. The paper will succinctly substantiate why schools ought to have a dress code.
The school dress code is becoming an increasingly common policy in many communities globally. This is because school provides educational environment and should prepare the students for a professional environment as adults. In fact, the dress code is continuation of school’s commitment to train students to be successful in the real world. The learning institutions thus acknowledge that having decent dress code is prerequisite in the workforce environment that students expect to join after school. By enforcing dress code, the schools also teach students the importance of conforming to standardized guidelines on conduct and appearance (Gevirtzman 173). However, the restrictions and severity of the dress code will vary across different states.
Different schools in different regions have instigated and enforced dress code guidelines for several reasons that revolve around the students’ wellbeing. For instance, dress codes improve students’ performance as they focus more on their academic performance as opposed to fashion and their appearance. The dress codes also negate the severity of social conflicts that pertain to appearance and the pressure to follow modern fashion trends. Similarly, the school dress code was instigated to instill certain school atmosphere while providing students with freedom of expression. The use of dress codes to create conducive school atmosphere is important because inappropriate clothing can be a distraction to other students (Daniels par 1). Low pants, skimpy tops and short skirts should not be used within the school environment.
Dress codes also play a vital role of ensuring safety within school setting. In fact, safety in schools is paramount and schools should focus on creating an ample educational environment that negates intimidation incidents (Daniels par 3). This is prerequisite for effective learning. Safety is achieved by the reduction of theft cases because school dress code prohibits some high priced designer clothing. Moreover, some clothing is affiliated with inappropriate gang slogans which can cause fear and intimidation in school. In this regard, school also reduces the ways in which gang members can identify themselves which also reduces intimidation. School dress code rules restrict such clothing thus promoting safety (Daniels par 3).
Parents also feel that the demand for schools to have dress code is commendable as it ensures their children are properly dressed thus upholding discipline. However, another question is whether the dress code deprives students of their individuality (Gevirtzman 178). In this regard, lower courts sided with schools on the issue of dress codes. Therefore, a court cannot overturn the dress code in an educational institution unless the guidelines are discriminatory or unreasonable (Haynes Par 2). After all, most schools lay emphasis on dress codes that emphasize on grooming and this is reasonable as per the courts. The court can also support school dress code if it does not insinuate the suppression of freedom of expression and focuses on the achievement of academic objectives. Therefore, the court has the prerogative of ensuring the adopted dress code is in line with safety, order and discipline (Haynes Par 1).
However, as opposed to uniforms, dress code allows students to wear any clothing that adheres to the school requirements. The requirements often pertain to color; style of the clothing cut. In this regard, the dress codes leave the students with the freedom of choice and expression as they can wear whatever they want, which provided it conforms to school’s guidelines. Besides, the freedom of expression often manifests itself through clothing. Self-expression is an integral component of individuality and parents should encourage students to express their heart’s content (Dunlap 30). However, students should also learn how to use other avenues to express themselves. An example is creative writing.
Even though schools are focusing on the implementation of dress codes, they are facing inherent challenges in the process. For instance, women are voicing their concerns on how the dress codes guidelines are oppressive to them. They are getting the unfair part of the bargain. In fact, male student can wear short clothing whereas it can be inappropriate for a female student to wear one. This is the epitome of double standards as it treats women unequally on the premise of sexism (Wente par 1). Others have gone a notch higher and accused the school administration of slut shaming and sexism.
In typical predicaments, the dress code expects women not to wear revealing outfits that show too much skin as it would be distraction to their male colleagues. However, these amounts to objectification as their bodies are being sexualized which is felony. However, from practical point of view, girls should not be blamed when guys are distracted by their attire. This is because ought to understand that women deserve some level of respect regardless of their dressing (Wente par 3).
In most educational institutions, school boards have been accorded the prerogative of enforcing dress codes programs. Therefore, they should do so without violating the student’s constitutional rights. In addition, educational institutions should be precise and strictly enforce the dress codes guidelines (Dunlap 32). Moreover, the guidelines should be clear in stating the acceptable style as well and prohibit any clothing with inappropriate slogans or advertisements. This is because the dress codes are open to interpretation and students might get some facts misconstrued. For instance, a short skirt may be appropriate to one person whereas it might be long enough to another. Such disparities should be clarified so as students can draw line between what is acceptable and what is not. Students and parents alike should also be made to understand why dress code violation will not be tolerated.
How the dress code is enforced also plays an imperative role in the effectiveness of the stipulated guidelines. Those responsible should not let minor violations slide as this will make it difficult to enforce major violations (Gevirtzman 174). Moreover, it is equally important to acknowledge the fact that the benefit of better dress code is premised on psychological perceptions. For instance, one cannot go to work dressed in recreation attire whereas one cannot go for recreation while dressed in official attire. This is also applicable to students as they should go to school dressed like people who are ready to learn. In fact, this also prepares the students psychologically. Students should also be made to understand that conforming to the specified dress code depicts respect for authority as well as good behavior.
Educational institutions should conform to particular dress code as it enhances the provision of safe learning environment. Moreover, the dress code is a way of teaching students the importance of respectable appearance as it has positive impact on their self-esteem. A dress code should be communicated to students with precision and well-articulated rationale. However, students should also understand that school is educational environment and they need not to use their fashion preferences to show off.