Students Are Bending Gender Norms To Protest School's Outdated Dress Code

Photo: Getty Images.
There's another dress code conundrum playing out in America's high school hallways, this time at Buchanan High School in Clovis, CA. An addendum that would allow male students to have long hair and sport earrings was recently rejected, prompting a group of students at the school to start a petition to institute a gender-neutral dress code in the Clovis United School District (CUSD).

Aside from the petition, which has amassed over 3,000 signatures so far, a couple of students protested the lack of a gender-neutral dress code via their fashion choices: they wore articles of clothing traditionally worn by the opposite sex. That entailed male students showing up for class in dresses and female students wearing collared shirts to school.

"The reason we switched gender norms for the day was to make the statement that what we wear does not define us as students,” student Emma Sledd told the Fresno Bee.

CUSD's dress code currently stipulates that male students' hair can't be longer than "the mid-point of a standard stand-up shirt collar," and earlobes visible. The dress code also considers earrings as "not appropriate for males" and describes miniskirts and culottes as garments "acceptable for females." This policy, which has been in effect since 1975, was put up to a vote on January 27, but the school board voted to keep it intact in a tight vote — 4 to 3, ABC30 reports.

The ACLU of Northern California called out the Clovis Unified School District's decision for directly going against a state law that protects gender expression.

It's not just students rallying behind the cause: “While some teachers dress-coded a few of the people in protest, most of our upper administration is supportive of what we’re doing,” Rei Bioco, a junior at Buchanan High School, explained to Buzzfeed News.

In September, middle and high school students at Charleston County School of the Arts in South Carolina took a different approach to protest the school's dress code (and one that probably impressed their English teachers in the process). In response to how the pretty standard dress code was being unfairly and more strictly enforced for the school's female students, a number of pupils donned scarlet As for almost a week.

Hopefully, CUSD will heed the petition and accompanying gender-swapping style statements. In 2016, there's no reason that students of either gender shouldn't be able to dress in gender-nonconforming garb if they so desire.

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