Student newspaper of Kirkwood High School.

Call Ed: Coded

The KHS dress code plays an important role in creating a comfortable and safe environment while at school. Recently, it has been under fire for being inconsistent and unfair. In response, 92 percent (81/88) of TKC believes the dress code should be revised and reinforced.

February 28, 2017

In the state of Missouri, citizens are allowed to open Italian restaurants. Not shocking. In the city of Kirkwood, Kirkwood residents are allowed to build treehouses in their backyards. No surprise there, either. At KHS, students are allowed to wear tank tops of any strap width and shorts shorter than fingertips’ reach. Hold on a second.

The KHS dress code is in place for clothing “to not disrupt nor distract from the instructional procedures of the school day,” and can be found on page 35 of the KHS handbook. It includes guidelines such as the prohibition of headgear, hazardous jewelry and clothing that expose undergarments, stomach, back or chest. Failure to comply with this code can result in being sent home or to ISS. Nowhere in the dress code does it say straps have to be three finger lengths wide or shorts have to be longer than arm’s length. Yet students still face consequences for wearing these items of clothing, which is why TKC believes the KHS dress code and its enforcement is inconsistent and subjective. It should be edited to be more specific and reinforced to all KHS students and teachers so no more mistakes are made.

If the purpose of having a dress code is to keep the focus on learning with no distractions during the school day, the punishment of being sent home or to ISS hardly makes any sense. One hat or bra strap shown is not worth a day of missed assignments and a mark on the record. Reminders to comply with the code and back-up clothes in grade level offices aren’t that hard to administer. Though, that’s assuming they were administered under correct and reasonable accusations. Of course, sometimes students with actual violations are let off easy. Inconsistent? Yes.

Some argue that school should be treated like a workplace in terms of dress.

“I don’t have a problem telling a young lady ‘top too low, skirt too high,’” Romona Miller, assistant principal, said. “Just as other any business environment, you need to dress appropriately for why we’re here.”

Business environment or not, it seems that some teachers, administrators and students don’t truly know the dress code because of difference in interpretation and simply not referring to it often enough. Students should know their clothing rights at KHS without interference of a teacher’s personal opinion on what is “appropriate.”

Differences in opinion also varies depending on the gender of the teacher.

“For my male counterparts [calling out a girl’s clothing is] a little difficult,” Miller said. “They don’t feel comfortable with it. Because of that reason, [the dress code] is not always dealt with the same way.”

 

KHS dress code from the KHS handbook:

 

The Gender Equality Coalition is currently working on revising the dress code so that it is more explicit. With their edits, headgear would be permitted if it is for religious purposes, there must be specific athletic dress codes for both P.E. classes and extracurricular athletics and chains will be allowed as belts and other accessories. Students in question of a violation may also choose who assesses their dress so there is no question of what is actual violation and what is teacher’s opinion.

Once these changes are made, they need to be reestablished for all KHS students and teachers to know. There is too much confusion, too much subjugation under nonexistent rules and too many students feeling uncomfortable with how others judge what they wear. After KHS teachers and administrators know what they can and can’t call out, there should be no room left for bias when making calls on actual clothes against the dress code. Students with a larger chest shouldn’t be put in detention for showing a fraction of cleavage while smaller students go about their day in shirts that dip to the top of their bra. A student should not have to take off their winter hat the minute they step inside if their group of friends are all wearing hats and bandanas, too.

KHS isn’t a runway. It isn’t a place we come to show off our bodies, make statements or cause disruptions with unnecessary clothing. We come to KHS to learn and comfort is a part of that. Being comfortable that we can wear what we want while complying with a lenient and neutral dress code is important. As is being comfortable that our school day will not be disturbed by being judged and unevenly targeted for rules it seems no one knows are nonexistent.

 

art by Clare Huber

 

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