Look at it our way: Does our dress code do more harm than good

Editorial Board

Dress codes are a necessary element of any public school system. When they are too loose adolescents are be left to find the social norms of clothing on their own, likely facing more regret when reflecting on their teenage years later in life that would have been necessary. When they are too strict, students are unable to express themselves through their clothing, stunting their personal development. Between these two extremes, in most scholastic environments across the country, problems still often remain.
There are very few subjects in which anecdotes serve as the best support, the superior means of finding a common ground, but it seems that this is one such subject.
In any given American high school, three students could walk in wearing the same knee-length, keyhole dress in their respective size: one an average female, one a student with a large bust, and one who was born a biological male. In this scenario, in most high schools– but more specifically at Neshaminy–, two of the three students would be asked to change, to “not wear that outfit again,” or even given demerits for their violation of dress code.
Although most see the problem in this standard immediately, it has become apparent that the administration of Neshaminy High School is having a bit of a vision issue, and has had such for many decades; they do not note, or simply do not care, that the vastly different, oftentimes unclear standards for male and female students within Neshaminy High School not only echoes the old days of sexism run amuck in the public school system, when the girls’ sports teams were set apart from their male counterparts by their team name of the “Neshaminy Squaws,” but also makes self-expression a punishable process for transgender and genderfluid students, and encourages the shaming and sexualisation of many others.
The dress code states that girls’ necklines “should be conservative,” leaving interpretations of appropriateness up to school staff, who would, in fact, have to consciously deem a student’s body as a sexual distraction to their peers to determine their clothing to be inappropriate; this encourages school staff to view students in an inappropriate light, and creates an air of shame for the girls who are told to cover up, despite the fact that their parents approved of their chosen clothing enough to allow them to purchase it.
The dress code states that boys cannot wear “tank tops/sleeveless or muscle shirts,” both allowing future, less understanding staff members to punish transgender and gender fluid students for their simple self-expression, and perpetuating that male and female students should be treated differently solely on the basis of their gender, furthering the idea that men and women stand on different ground.
The dress code, however loosely defined, specifically allows teachers and administrators to deem clothing as inappropriate on a whim, where it says that “high school administration reserves the right to determine the appropriateness of student dress.” This means that however conservatively a student dresses, whether they be male or female, administrators can deem it inappropriate; some schools do not allow students to wear certain colors, others do not allow students to wear clothes which are associated with movies, artists or movements that they find vulgar. How fair can a dress code claim to be if it is allowing the prohibition of federally guaranteed rights of self-expression?