Thursday, December 1, 2011

Dress codes for students

Many, many schools are responsible for developing, creating and maintaining a dress code for young people who are unable to make wise decisions about what to wear! This is appropriate. Many school councils help establish a dress code. Lakehead DistrictTorontoDSB, PDF files: OCDSBSimcoe Catholic schools.


In some cases, parents leave the house before their children, in others the children undress, or peel off layers to reveal unseen fashion statements. The recent trials involving cultural clashes, and a family (father, mother, son) who allegedly murdered their daughters whom they felt went beyond traditional values in terms of dress, demonstrate how strongly we must protect our children. Unfortunately, the media attention for this trial puts the wrong perspective on freedom to wear anything we want.

In my teaching career I have taken our dress codes seriously, and find that many students do not understand it. As pop stars began to wear midriff-baring tops, and low cut pants, it revealed a whole new look with the young people. I was in high school in the mini-skirt era and it wasn't pretty!
There are several issues that concern me:

  • Do you want your child's male teacher ogling her as she languorously stretches, in the full knowledge of what she is doing?
  • Do you want your sons watching the same move?
  • Does your child understand that the way s/he presents his/herself in public tells a lot about them.

Dress codes are not limited to students. You cannot enter a place of work, attend a business or casual function without being aware that there are (or should be) dress codes. The sleazy, flesh-revealing, haute couture styles seen on anorexic models simply do not work for the majority of women in the majority of public places. Age-appropriate dress codes apply, as well. With body piercings, that truly gross me out when faced with this in servers or wait staff, I think we must reflect. I have found that staff members with body piercings influence the students to try this out for themselves, too!

Out of respect, staff members need some internal monitoring system. In the new casual dress policies of the workplace, young educators need some guidance. I often ask students if they want me coming to school inappropriately dressed? How gross would that be?

I had to counsel one of my student teachers, who wore low-cut pants that revealed plumber's crack. It was simply gross.

I watched a young gr. 6 student who would roll down her yoga pants, while wearing a shortly cropped shirt, and stretch her arms ups, while the boys ogled her. Not only did she violate the dress code, but she engaged in behaviour that took away from classroom curriculum, abusing an occasional teacher, and convincing another student to steal. She was a pistol!

To be in school, as in the workplace, there is a purpose that is hijacked if one is busy working on a persona, not on who they really are. We had punks in middle school who insisted on wearing their gang colours, and that issue had to be dealt with. Some young men like to wear outfits with slang, sexual innuendo, inappropriate language, and off-colour jokes. The young people are told to turn their t-shirts inside out, or they are sent home.

No student was hurt by hearing the word no. It is a good lesson to learn!

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