why do we have dress codes in school
This is a necessary and important issue, but unfortunately many of the arguments presented thus far have not rested so much on the Constitution as on ethics, morality, and public opinion. This is unfortunate, not necessarily because these are bad resting places for an argument over policy, but more that the purpose of this forum is to focus on the Constitution. The other arguments given are perfectly valid for answering the question of whether we should have a dress code. However, the first question is the one of can we even have a dress code, Constitutionally, in the first place? Therefore, my argument will rest squarely on the text and interpretation of this important document. Yes, dress codes are absolutely necessary and even Constitutionally allowed. I will base my argument off of two key texts in the Constitution:
Article I, Section 8, Clause 1 (General Welfare Clause): ÁThe Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts, and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts, and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;Á ÁCongress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. Á I will be focusing on the power of Congress to spend money to Áprovide for theÁ general Welfare of the United States,Á and its prohibition against making ÁlawÁ abridging the freedom of speechÁ. Public Schools are run by the State, as the Federal Government is prohibited from regulating education by the Constitution by the following argument: 1. Any powers not delegated to the Federal Government are reserved to the States or the people. (Amendment X) 2.
Education is not delegated to the Federal Government. 3. Therefore, the Federal Government may not regulate education. However, my first key text, the General Welfare clause, currently allows the government to spend money for the ÁGeneral WelfareÁ of the United States. What the clause originally meant is a discussion beyond the scope of this post, but it doesnÁt matter for the purpose of my argument. The acting definition is essentially the same as the one given by the Supreme Court in United States v. Butler, in 1936. This landmark case opened the floodgates for Federal Spending, allowing the Federal government to spend money on things that are outside the scope of the delegated powers in Article I. This is exactly how the Federal government regulates education. The states are offered a grant of money from Washington, but only allowed to take this money if they comply with certain regulations. There are certain restrictions on what they can regulate, but they currently regulate much of state education in this way. Thus, public schools are essentially regulated by the Federal government and are therefore under the Constitution. Much of the argument against dress codes, Constitutionally, might be aimed at free speech. Students should be allowed to express themselves according to the First Amendment, right? Wrong. The Supreme Court has ruled, in such cases as Miller v. California, that obscene speech is unprotected by the First Amendment and may be banned. Thus, a dress code is a perfectly Constitutional restriction on speech. What do we have at the end of all this? The fact that the schools are perfectly in the right to establish dress codes. The other arguments on this site address the next question of whether we should or should not have one; I hold the former position. The Constitution does not protect obscenity, and the BibleÁthe foundation, one could argue, of the Constitution in many waysÁcondemns it.
The truth is, whether one wants to believe it or not, men are attracted to women. And it will not stop; this is the way it was created, and in marriage, it is holy and right. But outside of that, it is immoral and sinful, and dress codes are a perfectly Constitutional way of addressing that. Over the years, schools have implemented student dress codes to address a wide range of issues, some of which have been quite controversial. For example, in the late 1960s and 70s, young men with long hair were sometimes physically attacked by their classmates and, as a result, many schools required boys to wear their hair cut to their ears or shorter. In the 1990s, there was a push for dress codes to prevent promotion of gang-related violence. In recent years, a desire to stop conflict over designer labels and create a more ÁprofessionalÁ school environment resulted in dress codes and uniforms becoming more popular. Student dress codes recently made headlines because several groups of studentsÁpredominately girlsÁbegan to question and protest school dress codes because they thought the policies were unfair. Their words quickly traveled via social media and news articles. The young spokeswomen said that: (1) the dress codes unfairly target girls and transgender students; (2) they send a message to girls that if they are harassed by boys, it is their fault; (3) they feel judged and shamed by the dress codes; and (4) that a different standard is applied to girls who are more curvy and developed than other girls. One example is at Haven Middle School in Evanston, IL where over 500 students signed a petition opposing what theyÁd been told was a full ban on leggings and yoga pants. Many girls wore yoga pants or leggings in defiance of the ban. ÁNot being able to wear leggings because itÁs Átoo distracting for boysÁ is giving us the impression we should be guilty for what guys do,Á said Sophie Hasty, a 7th grader at the school, ÁWe just want to be comfortable!
Á What do you think about students who protested their schoolÁs dress codes? Do you agree that dress codes unfairly target girls and why? Why do schools have dress codes? What do you think should be included in a dress code? What is on your schoolÁs dress code that you donÁt agree with and why? (See the More Information section for articles and information that address these questions. ) How can principals, staff and students work together to come up with a dress code that feels fair? If students donÁt agree with school policies, what should they do about it? What are other ways that sexism is perpetuated in schools? Ask: What can we do to help? á What actions might make a difference? á Conduct a survey to find out what students think about your schoolÁs dress code. Distribute the survey to friends, classmates and online friends and compile and share the results, along with recommendations. Talk to a teacher or school administrator about convening a committee (comprised of students and staff) to explore an update of the schoolÁs dress code policy. Write a letter or article for the school newspaper about dress codes or another school policy for which you have a strong point of view. Find out what children know and use the summary to expand their knowledge. Ask what else they want to know and investigate together to learn more. When discussing the topic, ask children open ended questions that deepen the conversation. Do not judge their responses and listen thoughtfully. Think together about a child-level action they can take; this can be something they do on their own or something you do together or as a family. (ADL lesson, grades 6-12) (ADL lesson, grades 6-12)
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