Is Dress Code Restricted More on Girls: Specifically Girls of Color?

Nevaehona Williams

The question “Is dress code really discrimination against girls?” has been up for debate for years. In many cases, people argue that the dress code is used to punish girls more than boys. For example, in St. Louis, Oakville High School’s principal sent out a video apologizing to parents for telling female students they shouldn’t show off their body for fear of “distracting” the boys. Another case is a Roman Catholic school in New Orleans sent a 6th grade girl out of the classroom in tears because braided hair extensions were against school hair policy. She was a girl of color. 

In the last 2 years, Chang.org has had 400 petitions against school dress code. These petitions were mainly created by students saying that the dress code is sexist or unfairly enforced. The National Women’s Law Center made two statements saying, one, “These rules aren’t neutral: many target girls, and especially black girls, by regulating skirt length and headwraps” and two, “And the rules aren’t applied equally, either. Students report that black girls, and especially curvier students, are disproportionately targeted.” According to the American Civil Liberties Union, dress codes are legal as long as they do not “treat boys and girls differently, force students to conform to sex stereotypes, or censor particular viewpoints.” 

Most of the schools who have been in the spotlight for sexist or stereotypical dress codes have changed them or made them more equal for boys and girls. But having a strict dress code affects student academics. It gives girls low self esteem and no courage to be who they are. It’s hard for some girls to find shorts or skirts that fit them dress code wise. Personally, I am one of those people. I also have a lot of friends who have the same problem. An anonymous quote I found said “Instead of publicly shaming girls for wearing weather appropriate clothing, teach students and teachers to not over sexualize normal human anatomy”.