Are dress codes sexist?

Are dress codes sexist?

#DressCodesSexist
#StayFocusedInSchool
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Teens are pushing back against dress codes in schools because they think they're sexist. Dress codes are often unfairly enforced and send the message that women's bodies are distracting. Others argue dress codes are necessary for boys and girls. It doesn't have to be inherently sexist. It just depends on how it's implemented. The world has rules and students should learn that early. What do you think? 👗

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#DressCodesSexist
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Students argue dress codes are sexist because they often single out girls. The message is that a woman's body is distracting to boys and should be covered up at all costs. So what if boys are turned on by a girl's body? That's life. Boys have to figure out how to deal with their urges and remain productive and respectful.

Telling girls that boys will do bad things if they wear the wrong piece of clothing sends a horrible message. Shouldn't the boys be held accountable for acting out, groping or harassing the girls?

So yes, I care about the harmful ideas about masculinity that boys learn from school dress codes. But I care more about the discomfort, humiliation, and shame that dress codes can cause for the people they target. The language we use when we talk about dress codes matters. A boy might find himself distracted by looking at your body, but that doesn’t mean your body is inherently distracting. Unfortunately, that nuance is missed by some teachers and school administrators who use cruel methods to enforce dress codes.

Dress codes can be sexist but they don't have to be. It's all about how they are communicated and enforced. If school administrators are only policing what girls wear, that's a problem. If there's a boys-will-be-boys attitude about dress codes, that's a problem. But dress codes play an important role in schools because the reality is teenagers will wear inappropriate clothing from time to time, regardless of gender. It comes down to even enforcement and policies that actually make sense.

Here's how one principal figured out how to implement a non-sexist dress code:

The dress code Burmeister created a few years ago, when he was a principal, was gender-neutral. It listed five simple "norms" for students, starting with the most important: "All students must be covered from mid-thigh to top of chest in non-see-through materials."The response was positive, he says. And it shifted the discussion from conflict to cooperation. "As a society changes, our schools need to change as well, but that conversation doesn't need to be parents and students pitted against schools."
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