By: Lei’Lani J.

Shoes. Shorts. Crop tops. Shirts. Tank tops. Pants. These are types of clothing that girls and boys like to wear. However, there are some school administrators who feel clothing may attract unwanted attention and provoke distractions. Therefore, freedom to express oneself is limited to after school and the weekends.

Did you know the first school dress code law was created in 1969 and heard by the United States Supreme Court? The 1969 case known as Tinker vs. Des Moines Independent School District tried to limit students’ outward negative reactions regarding the Vietnam War. Students wanted to protest the war by wearing black armbands. The Supreme Court sided with the school that they may enforce dress codes if clothing will disrupt or impede the learning rights of other students. There have been other situations in which schools designate clothing rules for girls and boys. Examples such as only skirts for girls and those skirts are approved with a fingertip rule or boys must pull their pants up and secure them with a belt. 

Do skirts that are deemed an appropriate length really keep all students focused on their work? Do pants that are baggy really distract others? The questions that we must answer is clothing really a disruption or is it in the individual mind? Are school systems placing unfair labels on students and evoking negative thoughts that may have never been there? 

Clothing is a form of expression. People have different opinions on what is decent and modest. I think clothing is like art. It’s an opportunity to convey emotions and to express yourself. I think to put labels on girls, saying they aren’t modest or demure because they want to wear a short skirt is unfair. And to place negative labels on boys such as disrespectful or thuggish because they want to wear baggy clothes is also unfair. 

As a society, I think we are improving on embracing the concept of diversity and inclusion. However, right now, diversity and inclusion seems to pertain to ethnic backgrounds and different races. I think we need to have conversations that include clothing as well. Once we accept and embrace clothing as another means of expressing individuality, only then, schools, places of worship, businesses, and more. will discover that there are some brilliant minds wearing those outfits. 

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