A distress call against the dress code
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By: Editor -in-chief Emily Ugoretz
Dress codes have been in order at high schools around the nation for as long as anyone can remember. Neenah High School is no exception. Recently, schools around the country have experienced objections relating to their dress codes. Neenah’s dress code shares qualities with these challenged dress codes that are causing students to stand up to their school’s administration.
The dress code outcry is mainly the result of accusations of sexism. The dress codes’ focus on female students’ bodies have students and parents alike speaking out against the rules.
Neenah’s dress code features statements such as, “Students are NOT allowed to wear… Inappropriately short skirts and shorts, Tube tops, halter tops and backless tops,” and, “Student MUST wear clothing that covers their: Feet, Undergarments, Stomach, Chest, Back, Buttocks, Shoulders, Cleavage.”
In these portions of the dress code, specific female body parts are mentioned, but nothing is said about the male high schoolers. Direct statements about cleavage, halter tops, and short skirts directly point to the female students of the school. The first paragraph of the Neenah High School dress code states, “The school reserves the right to send students home if their appearance does not reflect good taste and cleanliness, or if it is disruptive to the educational process.”
If a teenage girl’s shoulders are considered disruptive by a male student or an adult staff member of the school, there is something wrong with their view. There is not a problem with that girl’s body. By stating and enforcing the rules in the dress code, the school is promoting the idea that a female student should be ashamed of her body. She walks the halls with the unsettling feeling that her appearance is constantly being judged. Over-sexualizing normal female body parts is a societal problem, not an issue of distraction. By punishing a girl for showing parts of herself others deem inappropriate, she is being shamed for something she cannot control. This mindset promotes the idea of victim blaming, and that is something that Neenah High School should not stand for.
While female students are singled out in the dress code, rules such as the restriction of clothing referencing drugs and alcohol remain unenforced. One common shirt, featuring a spoof of the Dr. Seuss book Green Eggs and Ham, features a grinch-like character and a poem about marijuana. This shirt seems to be getting more and more common, and it begs the question, if there is to be a dress code, shouldn’t it be enforced evenly? Bias toward pointing out “overly-sexual” clothing against clothing promoting drugs and alcohol shows a disturbing trend in the school system, and if the dress code remains the same, then enforcement should be unbiased. Our students deserve at least a little justice.
When it comes to justice in the dress code, many students tend to turn their heads to the subject of hats as well. Much of the outcry against the dress code has been against the ban on hats. Students state that they have the right to wear hats as a form of self expression and style. One of the types of hats students vouch for first are beanies. These hats are worn for style purposes, and most students see no harm in wearing them around school.
On this dress code topic Neenah High School Junior Alyx Prieto stated, “Unless I wear a top hat to school, I don’t think anyone is going to be distracted by a hat.”
Similar sentiments are shared by students who feel that hats are neither disrespectful nor distracting. If hats are allowed, they can be treated as any other clothing item in the dress code. If they display inappropriate material, there may be reason for removal, but as articles of clothing, most students see no need to hide their hats.
Overall, dissatisfaction for the Neenah High School dress code seems to warrant a closer look at the rules. Whether changes are made or not, awareness on these topics is something that many students would like. It seems, however, that the end of clothing-related persecution is something that Neenah’s students would like most of all.
A link to the Neenah High School agenda featuring the dress code is provided below.