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Dress code debacle distracts us from our education

This year, dress code has become quite the hot topic — almost hotter than the weather itself. Administration has taken more extensive measures in enforcing it and students aren’t taking it.

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It’s extremely difficult to learn in a classroom where the girls in front of me have such visible, “distracting” shoulders.
Give us a break.

On our campus, girls have claimed to be dress coded under a “sexist” and “unfair” system. This year, as teachers and administration have been cracking down on dress code more than usual – students have taken to social media sites, primarily Twitter, to express their discontent for being punished over minor offenses, such as wearing Nike running shorts and athletic leggings. Even students from other schools and graduates have weighed in on the issue.

Letters of complaints were written, student government meetings were held, exasperated tweets were sent.

Overall, the school was upset with administration’s attempt at enforcing the dress code more strictly.
With good reason.

The dress code system is unfair. Boys are seldom the target of the new dress code initiative, even when they wear shirts with cut-outs on the sides or depicting explicit images and words. The dress code has disproportionately affected traditional students, namely traditional girls, above IB students.

This is not to say that the dress code should be enforced even more harshly across all social groups, but instead that it promotes and furthers the inequity that’s already prevalent in our school. It creates divisions between groups of students that need to be brought together, and makes some people feel as though they are being discriminated against when one of the promises that Hillsborough makes to its students is to promote a healthy learning environment where everyone is equal.

Though the dress code is an important standard for maintaining the integrity of our school, regulations are now outdated. It’s been said that violations of the dress code are what is detracting from learning when, in reality, these arbitrary standards are what students are focusing on more than schoolwork.

We should be paying less attention to what kids are wearing because, in the end, the most important things in a student’s career are attendance and academic diligence.

Saying that shorts should be “fingertip length” is ambiguous because fingertip length on someone who’s taller means something very different from fingertip length on a shorter person. In a sense, an outfit may violate dress code when it’s worn by someone of one body type, while it goes unnoticed on someone of another.

Society has recently taken huge steps in accepting all body types after being subjected to unrealistic standards for years. By enforcing a dress code that doesn’t adhere to multiple body types, we are bringing back outdated ideals and hindering social progress.

For people of all genders, shoulders should not be considered indecent or distracting. Restricting shirt sleeves to a minimum of four or five fingers in thickness contribute to the objectification of females, but also pose a problem for anybody trying to dress according to the hot Florida weather.

There is also the question of whether infringers should change or go home. Being sent home should not be an option considering that attendance is a priority in terms of getting kids graduation-ready. Missing school doesn’t teach students anything and missing school because of a simple dress code issue — that can be easily resolved with a change of garment — seems extensive.

Furthermore, the air conditioning on campus is always changing. On a good day, students can wear jeans; but, when the A/C is down, most people find it hard to focus if they aren’t wearing shorts or a tank top.

The excessive reinforcement of the dress code supports the idea that it’s OK to sexualize a girl in situations where she is simply trying to dress according to the broken A/C or the Florida weather. If someone’s clothing isn’t blatantly disruptive, it shouldn’t even be an issue.

Clothes are a form of self-expression. The standardized tests and courses that kids are subjected to every day in school leave little room for them to display their personalities and individual styles; teenagers need a creative outlet that can’t usually be found in academics.

Obviously, there are some outfits that are clearly inappropriate for an academic setting – and those outfits should, indeed be met with consequences and disciplinary measures. However, this doesn’t mean that the dress code should be causing problems for people who aren’t wearing anything obscene; which it often does. Students and administrators have spent countless hours this year discussing this issue and facing repercussions for a problem that isn’t directly related to their academic success.

Administrators have been placing too much of an emphasis on what students are wearing instead of whether or not they’re learning. We ask that they, instead, focus on enforcing rules with its students in mind first.

There are priorities to take into account when striving for more academic success and an exaggerated enforcement of dress code is nowhere near the top of that list. If anything, the dress code debacle being discussed in every classroom, hallway and social media platform right now is distracting us from what truly matters: our education.

Check out our news story about the dress code here.

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Dress code debacle distracts us from our education