School Dress Codes: Conference Highlights

What do school dress codes have to do with helping young people learn about puberty? Well, a lot!

School Dress Codes

In fact, the topic of dress codes is so relevant that two conferences asked me to present my session titled “School Dress Codes: The Politics of Shame, Stereotypes, and Sexualization.” At the National Sexual Health Conference and the Moving Toward Solutions conference, participants who attended my session were very interested in discussing how dress codes can discriminate against students and negatively impact their body image and academic success. They were even more interested in learning how to improve their school dress codes to be less punitive, less discriminatory, and easier to use. So, I shared the model student dress code that was developed by the Oregon National Organization for Women.

What made the topic of school dress codes so appealing?

Many of the participants shared their own stories of being “dress-coded” at some point in their lives. Others described the difficulties they face when they are asked to enforce the dress code at their schools. One participant attended in order to learn how they could update the dress code at work. In other words, people found this topic to be relevant and personal.

These are some of the questions that were asked:School Dress Codes

  • Is it better to have a dress code or not have one?
  • Is it legal to tell students how they can wear their hair?
  • How can we find data on how our school’s dress code is enforced?
  • How can we convince our school’s leadership that we need to update the dress code?
  • If we update our dress code to match the model dress code, and a student in my class violates it, what should I do?
  • If we use the model dress code, who will enforce it?

Find resources for learning more about dress codes in schools:

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