Time for change: D88 forms committee to revise controversial dress code policy

 By Emily Bieberstein 

The administration has recently been looking over the dress code with the goal of making it more modern and reflective of AT’s core values. 

During the year and a half that school was in a remote setting due to Covid, the dress code wasn’t enforced at all. 

After returning to school this year a reinforcement of the dress code was imposed though to a much lesser extent due to a push from students who wanted the dress code to be reviewed for possible changes. 

The push back on the dress code came from the stance that there was a cultural gap in the language used to describe the dress code, as well as that the language stated in the dress code is oftentimes vague and left up to interpretation. 

Section 6.20 Student Appearance of the student handbook states,
“Students shall wear appropriate clothing and footwear and groom themselves for school in a manner that does not offend the rules of decency or reflect negatively on, or detract from any phase of the educational program.” 

This statement along with the frequent use of the word “appropriate” leaves open a question on what appropriate means in regards to the school environment. 

There is also a look at if there is a gender bias from the wording used throughout the dress code.

In the explanation of the inappropriate garments section of the current dress code clothing items such as “tight, excessively short, midriff tops, halter tops, strapless tops, backless tops, and

revealing-exposed cleavage” are some of what is stated, which can support this idea.

“I think it is wrong to create a dress code in which the underlying assumption is that the dress of young women needs to be regulated because in their dress they can ‘distract’ from the learning environment of the young men.  This is clearly a sexist assumption–we must make the language of our regulations gender-neutral to move in the direction of our district’s goal of equity,” said AT teacher Laura Magnavite.

AT’s administration and school board are working to fix these issues brought up concerning the dress code. 

A group called the Addison Trail Leadership Team composed of department chairs, head of guidance, head of deans, and other AT administrators who are in a role of leadership are holding town hall meetings to hear out other teachers where some brought up a concern with the dress code. 

Out of this meeting a committee of staff with strong opinions on the dress code was formed to look over the policy currently enforced by the school. 

“The goal of the committee is to present to the board a revision to the school dress code policy,” said principal Jack Andrews.

A policy such as the “headwear” policy in the dress code is one that is looked to be reviewed by this committee for the wording it uses along with the reality of its overall threat to the school environment. 

As the social acceptability of many clothing items begins to become less taboo the administration looks to create less of a focus around the clothing and more of a focus on the learning environment for the students. 

Though there is a review over the whole dress code there are still policies that remain strongly within it. 

Something that would continue to be enforced would be policies revolving around garments that involve profanity or obscene ideas. 

“If a student came with a shirt that was racist in nature or demeaning in any way to certain group we would ask them to change, and similarly we want to make sure the dress code is not taking away from people and their culture but we don’t want it to take away from the learning environment,” said Andrews

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