Evanston Township High School has implemented a new dress code, one they are referring to as a “body positive” code.
Schools across the country have been under fire as students and parents alike confront administrations on their dress code policies. Over half the public schools in the U.S. have a dress code for students. Many have been calling dress code policies unfair and even sexist.
Maggie Sunseri filmed a documentary showcasing how dress codes create an uncomfortable – and unsafe – learning environment for students. The documentary focuses on the negative effects dress codes have on teenage girls’ self-esteem and confidence. And although the documentary was published back in 2015 on YouTube, the debate over the effectiveness of harsh dress codes still remains a heavy topic.
Evanston Township’s new dress code leaves no room for debate. Instead of focusing on “distracting” clothes, the new dress code will promote a body-positive environment.
The code will “ensure that all students are treated equitably regardless of race, sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, cultural observance, household income or body type/size.”
Additionally, instead of promoting the idea that certain clothing styles may be distracting the ETHS code says, “All students and staff should understand that they are responsible for managing their own personal ‘distractions’ without regulating individual students’ clothing/self expression…”
There will be limitations on what students can wear: clothing cannot reference drugs, alcohol, or other illegal things. Also prohibited will be items that showcase profanity, hate speech, pornography, racism, vulgarities, threats, and defamatory language.
Teachers and faculty workers will be trained on how to use positive body image language in explaining the new dress code to students who do not follow the code. It is this dress code that Superintendent Eric Witherspoon says will help improve students’ learning environment.
In a statement to the press, Witherspoon explained, “We are striving to enhance the school-wide learning environment by honoring students for who they are.
“We want them to know that each of them, as a unique individual, belongs here and feels welcome and safe here at school.”