New Dress Code Targets All Students, Not Just Girls

A school district in Virginia will roll out a brand spankin new dress code this fall that uses completely gender-neutral language throughout with nary a “distraction” mention in sight. It doesn’t target either boys or girls, which is a fresh perspective of how basically every other school district in the country formats its dress code.

The Roanoke County School Board, along with a parent vote that garnered 59% approval, passed the new dress code on Thursday. Their old dress code, like many others that languish in school welcome packets that haven’t been updated in decades, included a ton of female-centric language, such as bra straps, cleavage, spaghetti straps and skirt length (which, of course, shouldn’t come higher than mid-thigh).

Their new dress code, though, is far more refreshing and is completely gender-neutral. Tops must have shoulder straps, and the entire area from armpit to armpit to the bottom of an item that is at least 3 or 4″ long is required to be covered by clothing — that’s it. No distraction mentioned, no “cleavage,” no “bare midriffs,” no “exposed shoulders or backs,” no “spaghetti straps.” The dress code is easy to understand and while it covers many of the restrictions set forth in prior iterations of the code, it doesn’t use ridiculous language that puts the burden of avoiding classroom distraction on the girls.

Dress codes are nothing new to me — my third child is will be a junior in high school this upcoming fall and I’ve waded through more registration packets than I care to remember. I’ve always noticed, though, that dress codes often unfairly target females. We recently got a high school registration packet in the mail for the upcoming school year, and I read through it with rising levels of all-to-familiar rage. The word “distraction” popped up multiple times and guess what? While “females” or “girls” weren’t specifically mentioned, many of the prohibited items were focused on items girls wear, such as halter tops, spaghetti straps and crop tops.

A simple dress code that uses gender-neutral language while clearly outlining expectations in an easy-to-follow format would easily solve this issue. Good move, Roanoke — let’s see if other districts follow suit.

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