When students in the Alameda Unified School District in Alameda, California disagreed with some of their school’s rules, they did something about it. School dress codes disproportionately target girls—at least that’s what a group of middle school students thought back in 2016. So what did these trailblazing teens do?

The students and their teacher decided to discuss the school’s dress code with administrators as a first step towards changing it. The policy, like many schools’ dress codes, revolved mostly around girls’ clothing—forcing girls to lose academic time after being told to leave class in order to change their clothes.

Photo: Pete Bellis via Unsplash

 

When the students later brought the issue to the district’s board of education, they were heard. Yep, the district actually did something about the dress code. And this year, both girls and boys in Alameda’s schools have many more options.

The new dress code is based on the idea that students should feel comfortable with what they’re wearing and with their own bodies. Instead of body shaming, the new code aims to help students (especially girls) create a body-positive self-image.

Obviously the new dress code has restrictions. Students must still wear tops, bottoms, shoes and clothing that, according to the school district’s summary of the policy, “covers genitals, buttocks, and areolae/nipples with opaque material.” The policy also bans clothing that contains violent language/images, images/language that depicts drugs or alcohol, hate speech, profanity, pornography, visible underwear or visible underwear-like bathing suits.

Photo: Matheus Ferrero via Unsplash

Students are now free to wear ripped jeans (provided that their underwear isn’t exposed), tank tops, halter tops, spaghetti strap tanks, strapless “tube” tops, skinny jeans, leggings, shorts, skirts, dresses, pajamas (yes, pajamas) and midriff baring tops.

However, the policy isn’t isn’t completely set in stone. Currently, the rule change is only a pilot program. The district will review feedback from the students and their families as well as the staff in December. The school board will then make a decision whether to make revisions or not at that time.

—Erica Loop

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