Kit Steinkellner
August 27, 2015 4:58 pm

We’ve been talking a lot lately about school dress codes, in particular how those codes can target and objectify female students in a manner most sexist and unfair. The Palm Beach County School Board is the latest entity to  debate school dress codes, but here’s the thing — the board hasn’t been talking about dress codes for students, but rather have been trying to figure out what the dress code should look like for adults on campus.

“As a principal, I always had a dress code for my staff because I think it’s important for them to look professional. We teach children you have to look professional as well,” former principal, now school board member Mike Murgio explained during the meeting. When Murgio was principal 20 years ago, he was so insistent that his staff “look professional” that, as the Palm Beach Post reports, he wouldn’t even allow his faculty and administration to wear jeans on Casual Friday.

Another school board member, Debra Robinson, thinks its important that faculty dress code guidelines be clearer and more conservative, again citing “professionalism” as the reason behind her push for stricter standards.

“Over the years, I’ve had comments made over and over again about how the adults on various campuses are dressed. I think it would increase the level of professionalism if we addressed that,” Robinson said. “I don’t know if I want to make it punishable, but I think we need to have some kind of guidelines.”

The board is currently contemplating a dress code for faculty, administration, and volunteers, and at one point they even considered enforcing a dress code for parents on campus. The idea of a “parents’ dress code” was shot down at the time, with board members fearing that asking visitors to comply with a dress code would make parents and guardians feel angry and alienated.

While details of this “adult dress code” for school employees have not been revealed, we hope that this school board is learning a lesson from the student dress code protests that are going on at the moment, and that when this code for faculty and admin is finally set, it will achieve its goals of “professionalism” without objectifying its staff, or getting in the way of doing their jobs, or any of the problems students have faces when wrestling with their own dress codes in schools across the country.

(Image via iStockPhoto.)

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