By Amber Antinora
Sterling High School, like most American high schools, has a dress code. It was put into effect quite some time ago and was last edited two years ago under former principal Diana Chrisman. It currently calls for a “decent coverage” with three more specific rules.
The dress code policy states that clothing exposing “traditionally private parts of the body” is prohibited. Along with coverage, there are no sunglasses, hats or clothing showing gang, drug or sexual activity allowed.
After talking with multiple students and faculty, it is clear that there are varying opinions towards the dress code, particularly between the students. Some say it is fair and basically necessary, while some say it is completely biased. The faculty mostly agrees that the dress code is important for students to prepare them for work.
Many girls say that the dress code is for everyone and boys break it just as often, yet feel as if it is enforced mainly on the women. The administration says that it is mainly the girls breaking the rules, but did not give a direct answer to the requirement of short or skirt length, which is not specifically outlined in the policy book. They claim that they do not want to be the “shorts sheriff” or the “shirt sheriff”, and reiterate a decent coverage. As of this writing, an answer was never given as to why there is a dress code.
“Look at the amount of girls versus the amount of boys that have had to change for exposed shoulders. That should be proof in itself that the dress code isn’t what’s wrong, but the way it is enforced is what’s unfair,” said sophomore Jessi Guereca.
Teachers at SHS grew up in different generations at different places, but most agree that expectations are mostly different today.
Art teacher Chelsea Scott says at her high school, anything exposing shoulders was prohibited, along with sweats, pajamas and leggings. English teacher Sarah Wernsman says she only wore baggy clothes: sweatpants and hoodies. Some do not remember having a dress code, while a few teachers say that it is “more or less the same” as it was when they were in high school.
The majority agreed that the dress code is there to get students ready for the “real world”.
Social Studies teacher Anne Owens states the primary goal of school and teachers is to prepare students for after high school and for the standards of the workplace.
Wernsman said, “I think it is necessary for students to dress appropriately for whatever the occasion calls for, and most students understand this, but (of course) we will always have special cases who abuse the privilege.”
Scott agreed with Wernsman.
“Every job I’ve had has some sort of agreed upon dresscode, some more strict than others. It is just a reality of the ‘real world.’ If we are supposed to be preparing you to go get a job and be professional, then school should have a dress code that makes sense for work environments,” she said.
“Since my background is working closely with employers, and since society expects educators to prepare students for ‘workforce readiness’ then I feel a dress code in school is not only appropriate, but probably a necessity,” said Enrichment Advisor/Counselor Lyn Frank.
The claim that in order to be respected or seen equally as peers, one must be dressed a certain way offends many high school students, locally and nationally. Jefferson County Public Schools in Arvada, Colorado made news this school year because students went in protest of their dress code.
“It’s insulting that apparently appearance is more important than education,” said sophomore Kaitlynn Prelle.
On the first time being confronted about a dress code violation, students will be asked to change, by going home or having alternative clothing brought to them. If the student is unable to arrange that, he or she will be given a written warning and have their parents called. After that, missing school days, parent conference, suspension and expulsion are expected for “repeat offenders.”
The handbook prohibits clothing that “disrupts the teaching-learning process.”
Freshman Briar Hulse finds this unfair.
“If boys get distracted, that’s their problem. I can control myself,” she said.
In my opinion, the body is not automatically sexual. “Knowledge pays,” and that should be the only thing that someone should think about while at school, not having their skin be seen as a distraction or being singled out and missing school.