How Portland’s new school dress code could change the high school experience forever
If you thought the days of getting kicked out of class for wearing a skirt shorter than the length of your fingertips were over—think again. Girls all over the country get “dress-coded” every day for wearing tank tops or shorts deemed too short by teachers and school administrators. Why? Because showing all that skin is “distracting” for boys.
*Insert dramatic eye roll here*
That’s why Portland, Oregon middle schooler Sophia Carlson took a stand last year and challenged her school’s dress code policy. She and her friends, who attended Irvington School, had been kept out of class for dress code violations one too many times.
“It’s a very embarrassing and shaming moment, to get dress-coded,” said Carlson, now 14, in an interview with Bitch. “The loss of educational time disproportionately targets girls.”
Carlson and other advocates proposed changes to the district’s dress code that would make it less restrictive overall and, more importantly, gender-neutral. They suggested, for example, removing phrases like “sexually suggestive” and ending bans on tops with spaghetti straps, which affected girls far more often than boys.
They suggested, for example, removing phrases like “sexually suggestive” and ending bans on tops with spaghetti straps, which affected girls far more often than boys.
Last week, the Portland Public Schools board ruled in their favor—and the high school experience will never be the same. Finally, kids in Portland will be able to wear clothing that fits their style—and the weather—without getting reprimanded or kicked out of class.
The new dress code requires students to wear tops that cover the front and sides of the body—including opaque fabric over the breasts—and bottoms that cover the genitalia, buttocks and undergarments, excluding waistbands. They’re still banned from wearing clothing that depicts: hate speech; drugs, alcohol, marijuana or other controlled substances; pornography, nudity or sexual acts; and gang identifiers.
Did you ever get dress-coded in school? What were you wearing?