At Mission High School, the dress code is pretty simple: no garments where the torso is exposed, no garments where the thigh is exposed, and no explicit or sexually suggestive stuff. The apparent reasoning behind these rules is to prevent distractions to students and also to make a professional learning environment.
I’m not sure if you noticed this, but two out of three of these rules only really apply to females. In fact, there is nothing in the dress code that strictly applies to dudes. The reasons why these rules are in place are not fair. First of all, the only people I can think of who would ever be distracted by a crop top and shorts are straight boys. It almost feels like the only reason why these rules are here is to protect boys, to make sure they aren’t distracted, and to make sure their grades won’t be effected by our bare legs and tummies. Secondly, I don’t understand the link between what we’re wearing and our ability to learn.
What I do know is that if you are wearing a dress that might be considered too short, you will probably be pulled out of class and sent to an administrator’s office to change, and if you refuse to change, you will be sent home. That’s not only messing with our education, but it’s letting us know that what we’re wearing is more important than what we’re learning.
“I think that’s a good point — I’m thinking about last year when I had students who were chronic offenders around attire. And so they would miss class. Like, they would be sent home to change because they didn’t want to wear what we had to provide to them to wear. But I guess the question is, as a school, how do we teach students appropriateness?” said Val Ferrero, a counselor at Mission High School. She added, “The media sexualizes girls… I worry that some girls need more help to understand, ‘Look, you’re getting the wrong kind of attention.’”
Ferrero agreed that there must be some way to fix the issues at play here. One thing we can do is teach boys how to respect girls and women. If a concern is that a guy will be distracted by a skirt, then teach him not to get distracted by legs, a feature that most humans have. If a concern is that girls will be sexualized because their midriff is showing, teach guys not to sexualize them rather than teaching girls that if they don’t want to be stared at and cat-called, they have to cover up. Meanwhile, we (girls) are being distracted by this responsibility to make sure that we don’t distract people, making the whole idea kind of counter-productive. The dress code causes the thing it was supposed to prevent.