Schools must be consistent with student dress codes

By Katie Boychuck and Hayley Mars
Hope Secondary School
Hope, British Columbia

How much is too much, or should we say how little is too little, when it comes to what is considered acceptable school attire?

There is constant conflict that arises from the critical comments said about some people's clothing. Here is where we will distinguish whether or not these comments are justifiable.

At our school, the dress code is a lot more lenient than many other schools which we read about. Schools in California prohibit certain types of boarding shorts, while accepting others. Our school is not concerned about brand names of clothing products, as long as its label does not contain profanity any where that it is visible. The very popular Canada Kicks "ASS" T-shirts are prohibited from our school if a student refuses to cover up its slightly inappropriate logo with a piece of tape. Considering "ASS" isn't even a vulgar word, it shows some sense of what is tolerable here at Hope Secondary School. For many clothes, you are left to use your own good judgment.

At our school, we spend the most time making sure that students are not wearing hats. It is basically up to each student as an individual to assure that they are dressed respectfully each day as they enter the school. Most people jump to the conclusion that acceptable attire is directed only towards what is "too little for too much". But in fact, this is also directed towards cleanliness, although this matter is left unapproached, it still distinguishes whether or not you look respectable enough for school.

The Principle at Brookswood Secondary School in Langley, gave a temporary leave of absence to a female student reported to be dressed inappropriately for a public school. It was said her shirt featured a low neck-line and revealed too much flesh. There is no problem with their dress code disapproving of these articles of clothing for all students. Unfortunately, that was not the case. It is said that many girls of smaller proportions are continuously wearing the mini skirts and the mini tops to match. But it becomes inappropriate when a fully-figured girl chooses to show off a little of her confidence.

That is where the discrimination comes in. A dress code is supposed to be a set list of acceptable and non-acceptable styles of clothing which apply to every student equally. There is not a different set for each different weight category. Rules are rules which should apply to everyone and if the principle can't even abide by them fairly, the school really shouldn't have any rules at all.

We are not suggesting that you find the skimpiest outfit possible to strut your confidence, because without an appropriate amount of coverage, you begin to strut a very visible lack of self-respect.

If you're still stuck on if you are dressed appropriately or not, just imagine someone else wearing what you are considering, and try to visualise whether or not you would give them a negative reaction. If so, you probably should consider something else.

Editor's note: This article originally appeared in The Attempt, the school
newspaper at Hope Secondary School in Hope, British Columbia