opinon - dress code - rebecca
Do We Need a Dress Code? Answer Not as Simple As It Seems

by Rebecca Raub

Do we need a dress code? If so, does it have to be so strict? The answer is not as simple as it may seem.

The topic of dress code is a highly controversial issue discussed in many public schools today. Teachers have been trying to figure out a way to get the message across and enforce the dress code, while students have been trying to figure out ways to get around it and not get caught.

Many students think the dress code is unnecessary, excessive, or even unfair. However that’s not the only issue they have with the way things are being handled.

I  interviewed sophomore Will Anderson in order to get a male opinion on this issue. “I believe that the male dress code should be enforced more, and all people should be required to keep their pants all the way on.” Anderson’s main point was,“I think that the current dress code is too strict, but enforced too weakly.”

Not all students are against the dress code, though. Sophomore Catherine Oakley says, “I think the dress code is fine, but it needs more enforcement.” I find that many students agree that the teachers are not very consistent with enforcing this rule.

After I talked with these students, I headed over to talk with Tracey Franklin, Walkersville High’s principal. Many students believe that she is the reason why this dress code exists, and almost no student understands why she has such “harsh” rules.

Franklin wanted to address a point that many students don’t seem to understand. “The dress code is established by the county, not the school. It is in regulation with FCPS guidelines. The rules laid out by FCPS are even more restrictive than the ones we enforce.” This is a good thing for students to realize, because enforcing these rules is required of someone in her position.

Another thing Franklin would like the students to know is that the dress code “…all comes down to the safety of the school environment and [a dress code] is necessary to keep the school safe and functioning.” She wants all students to feel safe and not be worried about other people making them feel uncomfortable and scared. This goes for everything from offensive shirts to heavy trench coats to short shorts.

She also says that it is not entirely girls’ faults that they think it appropriate to wear such clothing, Franklin states, “The dress code battles of females has gotten increasingly worse over time.” The modern fashions have become more and more immodest.

According to Franklin, it is not only the boys at the school that are feeling uncomfortable about the way some young women are dressing. She says, “Many girls come and talk to me because they feel uncomfortable about what their peers are wearing.” This is interesting to find out, because most students don’t know or think about that you might affect someone who has been through something. After all, you never know what tragedies someone has experienced and their daily struggle.

The main clothing items I see boys wearing in school that break the official dress code are these: saggy pants (okay guys, that was never considered cool) and provocative shirts. I do think that the provocative shirts issue is addressed as frequently as the girls dress code, but as far as the saggy pants issue goes, I agree with Anderson: people should keep their pants on.

I ask myself this: why is a girl showing her shoulders more provocative than us seeing almost all of a boy’s underwear?  

I do completely agree with Franklin about one of the reasons for enforcing a dress code. Some religions and cultures believe that it is better to cover up. When students go to school, we want them to feel comfortable and welcomed among other students.

Franklin wants students to know she and other teachers are trying to prepare students for life in the real world. When we go to work, we can’t show up wearing clothing that shows a lot of skin or undergarments. Think about it: Would you respect someone in a position of authority such as Principal Franklin in the same way if they showed up wearing the kind of clothing some girls show up to school wearing every day?

However, an issue I find a bit odd is that one of the reasons why we should dress appropriately is because male students and teachers may get “distracted”. I know that it may be distracting to high school boys, but that shouldn’t be why girls should dress appropriately. Everyone, girls and boys alike, should dress this way because they feel comfortable and good about themselves. We should dress mainly for ourselves, not to please everyone we meet, because in reality, you can’t.

To wrap it all up, I’ll state this: I think that the schools find it necessary for there to be some sort of dress code, and I get why. It’s an implied job, and it may be what’s best for a public school system such as FCPS. Ideally, the dress code would be what your parents allow, but that is an unrealistic expectation and it would not be considered socially acceptable at this point in time.

I agree with the points the students made, but I also agree with some points Franklin made. I wish the school would enforce the rules for everyone more, if they are stating that these are requirements. It would also be nice if we could restate the reasons behind dressing modestly.

However, I am not in a position of authority, so I don’t know what it’s like to deal with this issue. I know the teachers and staff are trying their best to do what’s right for the students, and I’m sure it’s hard to do with a unique crowd like high school students.  

I suppose the issue of a dress code is one that will always spark much debate among students, parents, and teachers alike.