Last school year, Bonneville’s dress code for dances stated that “young men” shall wear dress pants and a button down shirt to semi-formal dances and “dresses will be worn to all Semi-formal/Best Dress dances. No pants,” for “young women.” In a day and age where many teens are fashion forward and non conforming, was a gender biased dress code like this bad for the school? Over the summer, the school administrative team met and decided that, yes, it was bad and they decided to update the school’s dress code.
Simone Bateman, a senior, was very surprised to hear that the school’s dress code had been gender biased. Bateman said, “I just feel like it’s one of those things where if its not hurting anyone, then I don’t understand what the point of restricting it is.” I agree with Bateman. If someone is wearing an outfit that is completely school appropriate to a dance and is not putting anyone in danger, it should not be against school policy. Bateman also had an excellent point with, “I’ve seen girls wearing dresses that were barely dresses, and they still manage to get away with it, but if a girl can’t wear a suit that covers literally everything and they get kicked out for it then what’s the point of doing that?”
Bateman and Carly Lloyd, the psychology teacher, have the same point of view. Lloyd said, “I think that if it’s modest and it fits the dress code, then I think it should be okay.” I think that being appropriate is key. If someone is dressing up in any way that is not appropriate, then the school staff should turn them away. But if someone is just expressing themselves in an appropriate manner, then the school should not have a problem with it.
Lloyd was very surprised to know that the school’s dress code used to say that girls could be kicked out of the dance for wearing an outfit with pants, even if the outfit was appropriate. On the flip side, Chris Taylor, a history teacher, posed this interesting analogy, “It would be like if I wanted to hold a party at my house, but because I’m a White Sox fan I decide to tell all those coming that anyone in Cubs attire will be asked to leave. It may be a silly thing, but if I am hosting the party, and others know that is my rule, they can choose to attend the event or not since it’s not mandatory. If they choose to come, they should follow the rules or try to talk to those in charge ahead of time about possibly redefining those rules or possibly making changes if necessary.” Taylor then added, “Even if I feel personally girls wearing dress pants is fine, I still think the school staff has a right to ask them to change if the school is the organization in charge of the dance and the standards were made aware to those wishing to come.” Taylor made a very good point about informing the attendees of what the dress code is, however in the all of the interviews that I have done for this article, none of them knew what the dress code used to say exactly.
Also, do you think that the gender biased dress code would impact the number of LGBTQ+ students that attend the school dances? Bateman felt like it definitely would, she said, ¨I know that it would, there are definitely men in this school who like to dress more feminine, even if they aren’t trans or haven’t fully transitioned. And the school could, if they wanted to, kick them out because of what’s on their birth certificate if it hasn’t been changed. I know many girls who go to dances with their girlfriends and would like to wear suits, and I don’t think that they would go to many dances if they had to wear something that made them uncomfortable.¨
Because of all of these reasons, the dress code was updated for the 2018-2019 school year. Our mission this year is to have everybody involved, included, and attending school activities, but if anybody feels targeted or uncomfortable being involved in school activities it would be going completely against our school’s mission.
The updated dress code includes modest dresses and suits however it does not confine any certain genders to wearing one or the other. We commend the administrators for being proactive on this issue and look forward to seeing more positive changes to antiquated policies such as this.