Seattle Public Schools have instituted a district-wide dress code for students that reflects prevailing feminist and progressive thinking on concepts such as body shaming, gender rights and race.
According to a memo obtained by local outlet KUOW, enforcement of the new policy “will not create disparities, reinforce or increase marginalization of any group, nor will it be more strictly enforced against students because of racial identity, ethnicity, gender identity, gender expression, gender nonconformity, sexual orientation, cultural or religious identity, household income, body size/type, or body maturity.”
The district’s “core values” mandate that “Students should be able to dress and style their hair for school in a manner that expresses their individuality without fear of unnecessary discipline or body shaming,” the memo reads.
The sartorial specifics are basic and minimal: students must wear a top, bottom and footwear.
But clothing that displays pornography, contains threats, or promotes drugs or illegal activity is prohibited. Also off-limits are personal items that demonstrate “hate group association/affiliation and/or use hate speech.”
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In addition, students are not allowed to reveal their “private parts (nipples, genitals, buttocks).” Short of that, most clothing items appear to be fair game.
The new mandate allows schools with a uniform policy to keep it, as long as it’s “gender neutral and inclusive of attire worn for a religious reason.”
Attire “worn in observance of a student’s religion” is not subject to the new policy.
Toshiye Ishisaka, whose daughter attends Seattle public schools, worked with the Seattle Council PTSA and the district to craft the new policy.
Ishisaka was spurred to act after her daughter was hit with a dress code violation for wearing a sleeveless dress on a hot day.
“We received a copy of the code from the principal of the school, and it was very clearly gender-biased,” she told KUOW.“Throughout the country there has been a huge amount of bias and race-based dress code enforcement,” Ishisaka added, “and that often had to do with hairstyle, and particular styles of dress, it had to do with maturity, had to do with gender expression.”
According to Ishisaka, the old policy was put in place to remove classroom distractions. The new dress code puts the burden of “managing their personal distractions” on students and school staff.
Under the new policy, staff are admonished not to refer to students “as ‘a distraction’ due to their appearance or attire.” They are also “to avoid dress-coding students in front of other students,” which has caused embarrassment in the past, according to KUOW.
Past school dress code controversies
Spats over purportedly problematic dress codes have made national headlines in recent years and Seattle educators are not the first to allege that such policies contain racial and gendered dimensions.
.@CityNewsAmanda on the dress code controversy at 1 of #Toronto's most respected arts schools: http://t.co/JLBdcJ5GCl pic.twitter.com/qZRD5EBWBS
— CityNews Toronto (@CityNews) May 26, 2015
Even school dress codes aimed at parents have become topics of controversy.
MORE: ‘Racist’ School Dress Code for Parents Outrages Feminists
In recent years, schools who institute dress codes have often faced pushback from feminists and members of the body positivity movement who claim that “body shamers” are cruel and bigoted instruments of a patriarchal system.
However, critics of woke culture continue to defend traditional standards of beauty, along with other allegedly sexist values like modesty. Some also complain that political correctness too often prevents people from being exposed to difficult truths.
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