As temperatures started to exceed 80 degrees nationwide this week, High Schools across America began cracking down on dress code violations, particularly at public schools. While private schools often adopt uniforms, public schools largely allow students to have a choice in what they choose to wear to school. However, most public schools have dress code policies that limit what students are allowed to wear to school, prohibiting clothing items such as tank tops and leggings. Although different high schools vary in their rules, complaints arising from the dress codes remained consistent.

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Within the past week, parents and students alike expressed frustrations with the dress code in social media posts, many of which have gone viral.

For example, an honor student named Summer was suspended from Hickory Ridge High School after a dress code violation involving her wearing an off-the-shoulder shirt. Despite putting on a jacket to cover up following instruction from her principal, she was given a 10-day suspension and was barred from graduating with her fellow classmates.

In addition to her suspension, her full-ride college scholarships for her pre-med track were jeopardized.

"It's just sad because I worked so hard for four years to walk across that stage," said Summer. "We have drug dealers walking across that stage, we have sex offenders walking across that stage and then the 4.4 [GPA] student who showed her shoulders can't."

Dress codes discriminatory?

The largest criticism that schools received regarding their dress code were that they were discriminatory.

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Some complain that the dress codes disproportionately affect girls, claiming that far more girls get flagged for dress code violations than boys, despite the fact that many dress codes also address and prohibit certain clothing commonly worn by boys, such as hats.

90 percent of dress code violations are girls,” said Josie Espinoza, a freshman at Belgrade High School who was recently flagged for a dress code violation. “Our own principal said that it’s a fact that more girls get dress coded than male students.”

“You can see boys drop their pants so low, we can see their underwear but we can’t show our shoulder or belly button,” says Kaylie Haven, an 11th grader at Puyallup High School.

This led some to question the true purpose of dress code policies. Students complained that the dress code policies suggested that a boy's education was worth more than a girl's.

"We are dress coded because the boys are supposed to get their education and not get distracted, but we're being distracted by getting pulled out of school and not getting our education because our shorts don't meet dress code requirements," said Josie Espinoza, a freshman at Bellgrade High School.

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“It’s a sexist dress code and it needs to be changed or it needs to be equally enforced,” she continued. “It bothers me because I feel like dress codes are put in place mainly to set boundaries for the female students in that school. I feel like it demeans boys more than it demeans girls because boys are seen as animals, and they can’t control themselves around girls’ shoulders or seeing girls thighs.”

Others complain that the dress code disproportionally affects students with certain body types. For example, many dress code policies continue a "fingertip rule," which states that shorts and skirts must at least be as long as the students' longest fingertips.

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However, given that high school students have varying arm lengths and are not completely physically developed, this allows some students to get away with shorter skirts, while others may be reprimanded for wearing nearly knee-length skirts. "[My daughter] has very long fingers which seems to make finding shorts that won’t get her sent to the principal’s office impossible," said Dr. Catherine Pearlman, a parenting coach and mother.

Students and parents stand up

This week, the frustration regarding these dress codes resulted in parents and students taking action and voicing their concerns to school administrators.

For example, Dr. Pearlman wrote an open letter to her daughter's school principal, which went viral this week. This letter invited the principal to take her daughter clothes shopping in order to help her adhere to the dress code. In this letter, Dr. Pearlman also noted the several challenges that come with shopping for dress code-adhering clothing, including finding clothes that won't cause her to overheat in warm weather.

Additionally, students at Bellgrade and Puyallup High School staged a protest against the school's current dress code policies. The students walked out of class, many of whom were wearing clothing that violated their schools' dress codes. This resulted in several suspensions and students being sent home for the day.

How will it affect prom season?

Following several incidents involving students getting kicked out of prom for dress code violations, some schools have taken measures to prevent future violations, such as pre-prom dress screenings and prom dress guideline posters hung around schools. Such measures were met with pushback from students.

It is unclear whether schools will implement change as a result of these actions. However, the actions nationwide have highlighted several concerns with school dress codes.

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