It’s almost back to school time, and administrators are once again sharpening their pencils getting ready to enforce their dress code restrictions on students. In the most recent installment of The Educator Body Police Target… Young Women, last week the Freeburg, IL school district sent out this flyer to parents of middle school kids, outlining what wardrobe choices they consider “acceptable” and “unacceptable” for students to wear.
The problem isn’t that the school has a dress code, but as the saying goes… it’s all in the delivery, and the Freeburg school district gets a big F for this one. It didn’t take long for parents to react. According to local news sources, parents have expressed concern with the images and language being used in the flyer, finding it offensive, sexist and “ridiculous.”
“Telling the girls to dress ‘lady-like’?! C’mon. This isn’t the 1950’s. The girls aren’t at charm school to learn to dress, they’re at school to learn science, math, English, etc. And we shouldn’t be teaching girls to alter their dress as to not ‘distract’ the boys. I agree with the dress code, but the wording and singling out the girls is antiquated and archaic,” says one parent.
With the exception of just two small images and callouts for the boys, the 3-page flyer is filled with “don’t wear” warnings for the girls that use taglines like “lady like,” “reflect respect,” and our favorite “distracting.”
While there hasn’t been an apology from the school district as of yet, Tomi Diefenbach, the school’s superintendent, says she isn’t opposed to changing the flyer in the future, “if there’s a better way to portray what students can and cannot wear to school.”
If Ms. Diefenbach is looking for direction, we suggest she listen to some of her former students. Recent graduate, Ainslie Parrish took to Facebook to share her thoughts on the controversy, here’s an excerpt:
“About the Freeburg grade school dress code…when undergarments or ‘private parts’ are visible, it is inappropriate. But, I do not see the problem with shoulders or thighs exposed. Why should girls have to cover up just because someone is attracted to them? Students, especially teenagers, should be taught that school is for learning. If someone is constantly distracted, that is their problem & not the problem of who or what is distracting them. Plenty of things distract students in school, the vast majority of them not being related to the manner of dress someone is dressed in.
Schools forcing students to dress these ways are taking away a form of self expression and even worse, their self confidence… The solution is not to force people (mainly females) to change their dress. Forcing girls to change their clothes specifically to please others is humiliating and degrading. It teaches young girls that they have to dress to please others and they can’t be themselves. That sounds like a lesson that should not be taught in classrooms.”