Nobody wants to be “dress coded” in school. That is the act of being called out by school officials and reprimanded for one’s attire, possibly even sent home to change. But is the dress code in Milford too archaic, possibly based on discriminatory views, particularly against female dress? After interviewing boys, girls, and teachers, Joseph A. Foran High School’s opinion on dress code did not become too clear: Some think it needs to evolve and some think it’s fine just the way it is.
The purpose of the dress code as stated in the current Parent-Student Handbook is to have students dress in a way, “to neither distract other students or teachers, disrupt the educational process, pose a health or safety threat to anyone nor cause damage to the school facility.” The biggest problem with the dress code is the idea of distracting clothing. Flamboyant clothing or very flashy clothing can be considered distracting, but female clothing should not. The United States in 2018 is such a progressive society, but our schools frown upon the exposure of female shoulders and knees.
Sophomore at Foran, Jenna Cichowski, says she gets nervous preparing for school in the morning out of fear of being “dress coded”. Clothing items like ripped jeans, off the shoulder or sleeveless tops take up a large portion of her wardrobe.
Junior, Lexi Thomas, states that people wear what’s currently trending. Many popular clothing companies for teenage girls recognize that the world is becoming more body positive and are marketing clothes that inspire confidence. She also stated the only time she has ever been distracted by someone’s outfit is when it was a clothing item she wanted for herself.
Juniors Pauline Fernandez and Emma Bell agree that the dress code is biased against girls and that although some outfits are not their style, it is no one’s business how someone chooses to dress. Women have bodies and because clothing fits people differently, some women’s bodies may be a little bit more noticeable. Just because a woman wears less conservative clothing doesn’t mean she is encouraging or facilitating stares or objectification.
Junior males Anthony Capua and Dylan Fernandez shared the opinion that girls have a right to dress however they want. They believe in being oneself and expressing oneself through clothing choices. Fernandez stated the most distracted he has been by a piece of clothing was when a student was wearing Yeezys.
Juniors Brendan May and Matt Wootton stated that they would not argue for a more conservative dress code as the current dress code does not affect them in any way.
Junior David Dong sees that the dress code is biased towards girls. He also recognizes that girls wear many different types of clothing. All previously mentioned junior males confirmed that female dress has not distracted them to the point of interruption of the educational process or threatened their safety.
AP Human Geography, AP Macroeconomics, and Model UN Teacher Mrs. Bethany Gilman gave her opinion on the dress code as well. She does expect her students to dress appropriately but understands that trending clothing is what is going to be worn.
Foran’s new chemistry teacher, Mr. Gregory Sember, believes that the dress code is fair but can be a very tough subject to approach. However, his chemistry counterpart, Mr. Connors, has no problem approaching the subject. He does understand how current fashion trends affect popular clothing and as a father, also knows that girls’ clothing can be a little bit revealing. He believes that first impressions are important and his more traditional view of clothing choices has led him to believe that “it’s nicer to be conservative.”
One of Foran’s assistant principals, Dr. Golesky, spoke on the topic of dress code as well. She believes that school should be treated as a professional environment and as a community, Foran does not have too much of a problem with the dress code. She and her fellow administrators have changed the definition of appropriate clothing as times have gone on and trends have changed but, as she repeats at the beginning of every school year, “We’re not at the beach anymore.” Dr. Golesky stands firm on not wanting to see anyone’s stomach or undergarments. She believes that school is a place for learning and in order to foster a better learning environment, there needs to be rules regarding over-the-top clothing. She believes that some students do get distracted in their learning environment by the outfits of their peers, but may not be conscious of it at the time.
Foran’s principal, Mr. Berkowitz, says his main priority regarding the dress code is a fair implementation. If one student or one gender may be prohibited from wearing a specific clothing item, then all genders are prohibited. The Milford Board of Education develops the dress code, and part of the principal’s job is to bring that dress code into any school system. The principal does not have to follow the dress coding rules to a ‘T,’ but does have to make sure that the guidelines are met.
Both administrators believe that, for the most part, the high school does not have many problems regarding the dress code and they have never sent a student home. Some students may be asked to change or put on a sweatshirt, but that is the most severe form of punishment at the school.