Students in California’s Alameda High School can now wear almost anything they want to school, including pajamas, tight pants, ripped jeans, short skirts, tank tops, hoodies and mid-riffs that were banned by the previous policy.
The revised “student-centered” dress code – developed after complaints that female students were unfairly targeted for violations under the old system – now only requires students wear a top, bottom, shoes and “clothing that covers specific body parts (genitals, buttocks, and areolae/nipples) with opaque material,” the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Underwear peaking from sagging pants, spaghetti straps, bare shoulders, barely there shorts are now fair game.
“We’re still encouraging students to dress for an active school day,” English teacher Rebecca Baumgartner said. “We want kids and parents and guardians to be deciding what appropriate is.”
Alameda school board members also cited the changes as a means to reduce bullying and body shaming on campus, KTVU reports.
The new rules are modeled after suggestions from the Oregon chapter of the National Organization for Women, and Alameda isn’t the only district making the change. Schools in Evanston, Illinois, and Portland, Oregon have also joined the movement to dispel the notion that girls are responsible for reducing distractions in the classroom from revealing clothing, according to Lisa Flack, past president of the organization.
“The girls articulated … that they feel like the message they’re getting is that their bodies matter more than their education,” Flack told the Chronicle.
District officials implemented the loosened dress code for the 2018-19 school year, with plans to collect public feedback and reconsider the policy for next year. The new policy “will no longer ask teachers and staff to subjectively judge or measure students’ bodies or clothing,” according to a district memo.
Steven Fong, the Alameda’s chief academic officer, said the new dress code was prompted in part by students who complained that they felt embarrassed and ashamed when school officials called them out for violating the old dress code, which banned things like athletic shorts, revealing tops, and other clothes that disrupt “the educational process.”
“They really forced us – catalyzed us – to confront our own role in how students develop body image and what messages our dress code was implicitly or explicitly sending to students about sexuality and what was OK,” Fong said. “We’re not about policing students’ bodies.”
District spokeswoman Susan Davis elaborated further for the East Bay Times.
“I see this as part and parcel of these other changes that are happening in our culture right now around the #MeToo movement and concerns about rape,” she said. “As a school district, we really don’t want to normalize any languages or practices that make it seem like girls’ bodies are inherently sexualized or that boys have a right to treat girls a certain way depending on what they’re wearing or how much they’re covering.”
The Alameda dress code still contains several items of clothing that remain off limits, including clothing with violent language or images, “hate speech,” profanity or pornography, as well as headgear that obscures students’ faces, KCRA reports.