A school district near San Francisco has become the latest to adopt a dress code allowing midriff-baring shirts like tube tops and short shorts to meet an “anti-body shaming” agenda.
Students and teachers drafted the policy in July in the small city of Alameda to “reduce inequitable and unnecessary discipline and maximize learning time.”
An introduction to the policy reads, “Measuring the widths of straps and lengths of shorts in class or pointing out that a student was showing too much skin was resulting in embarrassment and shame for students. Such feelings can make it hard for students to concentrate on learning and can create long-term issues with body image.”
Under the new policy, students are still required to wear bottoms, tops, shoes and clothing that “covers genitals, buttocks, and areolae/nipples with opaque material.”
The code also bans clothing that depicts violence, drugs, pornography, or hate speech. Otherwise, students have the freedom to dress as they please.
“We believe these changes will reduce inequitable and unnecessary discipline and help us maximize learning time,” Steven Fong, AUSD’s chief academic officer said. “Districts across the country are adopting similar revisions for similar reasons. We are excited to be moving forward with such a student-centered approach.”
Not all parents and students are OK with the new policy.
“No, that’s not OK. I think they should dress appropriate,” said Chandra Thompson, the mother of an Alameda High sophomore.
“Not a crop top, not a tank top. It should be covered up, especially girls,” said Thompson’s daughter, Nalani. “Because boys might get the wrong message.”
The new relaxed dress code coincides with a push against body shaming, a rise in feminism, and the popular “#MeToo” movement that prompts males to be held responsible for sexual misconduct.
“If someone is wearing a short shirt and you can see her stomach, it’s not her fault that she’s distracting other people,” said an incoming freshman at Alameda High School who worked with a committee of middle school students and teacher advisers to revise the policy. “There was language that mainly affected girls, and that wasn’t OK.”
Susan Davis, spokesperson for the Alameda Unified School District, told ABC7, “When you’re looking at things like how short are your shorts, are your shoulders showing, is your cleavage showing, that really means that girls are being punished more often and losing class time more often than a boy.”
Recently, a Texas high school came under fire for showing a dress code video that only featured female violators. Students shared the video on social media calling it “sexist” and questioning “why are we still over-sexualizing teen girls?
And again in Missouri, parents were furious when a high school principal told students “girls aren’t supposed to show their boobs, bellies or butts so they don’t distract the boys.”
The anti-dress code narrative is being seen more each year. Similar policies were also put in place in the past two years in Portland, Oregon and Evanston, Illinois.
Meanwhile, many Christians believe that modesty is important in clothing and behavior, citing verses like 1 Timothy 2:9-10 which talks about wearing “respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control.”