School works with students to create a ‘stereotype-free’ dress code

Language is a powerful tool. And one school’s understanding of that helped it to craft a dress code deliberately designed as stereotype-free. School officials and students believe self-expression is just as important as the wording of the school dress code, after all.

Evanston Township High School in Illinois updated its dress code to “support equitable educational access.”  The school website also states the policy is

Written in a manner that does not reinforce stereotypes and that does not reinforce or increase marginalization or oppression of any group based on race, sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, cultural observance, household income or body type/size

According to the Chicago Tribune, the principal and other administrators worked closely together to survey students and come up with a dress code that works for everyone.

What does this mean for students? The new dress code considers shorts, leggings, spaghetti straps and hoodies fair game.

leggings photo
Flickr | joopai

The idea promotes students’ ability to dress as the gender they identify as, without fear of body-shaming and worry of causing a “distraction.”

Dress code does restrict hate speech, violence

The policy does still restrict certain items, though. This only includes clothing displaying violent images, language, hate speech, etc. The dress code outlines reasonable and clearly outlined rules.

People are reacting well to the updated dress code, too.

“It speaks volumes about how much they respect their students,” Evanston community activist Christine Wolf told the Chicago Tribune. “It really shows a commitment to listening to kids and what they need and being open to as many different voices as possible.”

teenagers photo
Getty Images | John Moore


And, of course social media has plenty of opinions, too. Most people are in favor of this “stereotype-free” method of dealing with clothing in schools.

“For those of you without school age kids, the dress codes in some areas have gotten quite silly. It is kind of weird that parents can decide to withhold life-saving medical treatment from their child, but they couldn’t send them to school in a tank top on a hot day,” one Facebook user wrote.

Another pointed out the differences between school dressing in males versus females.

“As a retired teacher, I can assure you that girls always get more infractions than boys. Dress codes are always aimed at girls and are outdated and patriarchal,” the comment read. “The underlying but never stated assumption is that that girls can control themselves whereas boys must have extra help to control their raging hormones.”

Many see this new policy as a  step in a positive direction for allowing school-aged children to reasonably express themselves. And that’s a win for everyone.

teenagers photo
Flickr | chiesADIbeinasco