The rules are simple and meant for all students
There have been viral news stories and real-life experiences with school dress codes from the viewpoints of parents and students alike. We all know the vast majority of infractions involve a girl being called in for “inappropriate” attire, which is completely unfair and detrimental to the progress of girls at school. One school district is taking things into their own hands to avoid this problem by adopting a gender-neutral dress code policy instead.
The county public schools in Roanoke, Virginia have approved the dress code in a survey sent out to district parents — 1,370 parents voted and 59 percent approved. “The old dress codes we had and that many schools have today single out girls for bra straps and undergarments and many things girls wear,” Don Butzer, the chairman of the Roanoke County School Board, told TODAY Style.
If you have a child in school (specifically a girl), you’re likely intimately familiar with the dress code policy where your child attends. As in most schools across the U.S, the language in the Roanoke County public schools felt they were targeting only girls’ clothing, holding them to a higher standard as to not “distract the boy” from their critical learning time.
For the 2019-2020 school year, all Roanoke County Public School students need to wear clothing that “cover[s] areas from one armpit across to the other armpit, down to approximately 3 to 4 inches in length on the upper thighs,” and “tops must have shoulder straps.”
My daughter was called in for her shorts being too short her freshman year of high school and was escorted out of a lunchroom of about 700 students to discuss the matter with the assistant principal. Driving her to school the next morning, I watched as dozens of girls entered the school with the same length shorts. If you have a policy, fine. But singling out girls randomly — embarrassing them in front of their peers — isn’t only arbitrary, it’s unnecessary.
“The new policy is probably the most progressive in Virginia,” Butzer said. “Our goal was to make it as simple as possible.” He also said girls are the ones most often “dress-coded,” meaning they are called into the principal’s office to have a discussion about their outfits. Roanoke County Public Schools superintendent Ken Nicely told Yahoo Lifestyle the district is committed to “promoting a school and classroom climate in which all students have a sense of belonging and inclusiveness.”
One other important message they want to make sure is clear in their new policy is that clothing “may not state, imply, or depict hate speech/imagery targeting groups based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, religious affiliation, or any other protected classification.”
“This area is very conservative, ” Butzer said. “I feel proud that we’re doing something progressive.”