4 Rules for Creating a Dress Code Without Going Viral

We’re sure you’ve noticed. Dress code rules are a hot topic these days.

Recently, Boylan Catholic High School in Illinois went viral for their 21-point prom dress code. But they’re certainly not the first school to get in hot water. So we wondered, what kind of a dress code could be posted without causing a riot or disrespecting anyone. Here’s what we found:

1. Plan Inclusively

When developing a dress code, invite members of many diverse groups to the table. The dress code affects all stakeholders. If you open the discussion up to all parents, students, teachers, administrators, and even tax payers, you’ll be able to say everyone was offered an opportunity to have their opinions heard.

2. Don’t Differ Rules by Gender or Culture

There’s no reason to require one thing for one¬†student and not for another. The dress code is the dress code, period. That means that all students should have the opportunity to choose what they want to wear within certain parameters. It’s unlikely that boys will wear skirts, but there’s no reason to say they can’t. This also solves an specialized issues for transgender and non-binary students. In this way, schools can avoid being harder on girls about the clothes they wear.

3. Put Education First

Don’t shame children for not being dressed appropriately. School is a place of learning, teach them instead. Sending students home for dressing inappropriately tells them that what they wear is more important than that they’re there. Instead let everyone know that students who don’t meet dress code rules will be given a t-shirt and pants to wear until the end of the day. The message: we want you learning and you can’t learn if you aren’t here.

4. Simplify Your Dress Code

The more complicated you make a dress code, the more loopholes will found. Keep things simple. Rules might state: Students must wear clothing including both a shirt with pants or skirt, or the equivalent (for example dresses, leggings, or shorts) and shoes. Shirts and dresses must have fabric in the front and on the sides (under the arms). Clothing must cover undergarments (waistbands and straps excluded). Fabric covering breasts, genitals and buttocks must be opaque.


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Posted by Kimberley Moran

Kimberley Moran is Deputy Editorial Director at WeAreTeachers. You can follow her on Twitter at @kagmoran or on Facebook. Email her at kmoran@weareteachers.com.

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