The Turlock Unified School Board was presented plans for an updated school dress code with key changes that would allow students to wear crop tops, pajamas and hats to school.
The core principles of the proposed new dress code are:
— To make sure all students are encouraged to dress in a manner that is comfortable and conducive to an active school day;
— Students will be able to wear clothing without fear of or actual unnecessary discipline or body shaming
— The student dress code will serve to support all students to develop a body-positive self-image;
— That the District standard dress and appearance policy is gender neutral and applies to all schools equally regardless of gender on school campuses and at school-sponsored functions; and
—The dress code will be enforced consistently and fairly by all members of the school staff.
A total of six dress code forums were held from Aug. 17 through 27. In addition, all schools in TUSD were sent an online survey to respond to the questions presented at the forum.
“The forums were extremely productive as all participants, even those that held contrary opinions were able to collaborate and provide positive feedback to revise the TUSD Dress Code guidelines,” said Chief Communication Coordinator Marie Russell.
During these forums there were five questions that the District wanted to answer: Why have a dress code? What must students wear? What may students choose to wear? What cannot be worn by students? What staff training/enforcement is needed?
Students, staff and families said they believe it is important to have a dress code to keep students safe and feeling comfortable, avoid disruption, distraction, offending others, not exposing body parts inappropriately, have limits to what students can and cannot wear, provide guidance that is consistent, prepare students for college and careers, maintain a level of expectation of how to present yourself and maximize efficiency and productivity of students.
The proposed dress code mandates that students wear tops with straps, shoes and secured clothing that protects and covers personal body parts. Students must also wear pants, skirt, shorts and other bottoms covering buttocks (no micro minis or short shorts where the entire thigh is exposed).
Students would be allowed to wear sun-protection clothing for outdoor use during the school day. Hats, including religious wear, are also allowed under the proposed plan and hooded jackets and sweaters are as well.
These changes would allow for spaghetti straps, leggings, crop tops, biker shorts, skirts, pajamas, ripped jeans, tank tops as long as underwear not exposed, comfortable clothing-sweats, yoga pants, hoods and sandals.
Students would not be able to wear sheer or see-through clothing. Visible underwear, bralettes, bandeau tops, sports bras or backless shirts would not allowed as well. Students would not be able to wear unsecured clothing which allows personal body parts to be visible or revealed with movement or contact. Students also could not wear anything that has offensive/hateful language or promotes drugs, alcohol, hate, violence or has sexual content.
The training staff is going to need to enforce the dress code will include promoting body positivity, consistent and fair for all students, being respectful and taking a positive approach to the dress code.
School board member Mary Jackson raised some concerns regarding the changes to the dress code.
“I’m not willing to lower the bar. I’m not comfortable with that — wearing spaghetti straps, crop tops and pajamas to school. My concern running for the school board was to make sure kids are learning reading and writing. I appreciate we looked at this because I think our dress code was antiquated but I want every kid to graduate and know how to dress for an interview. We need to set a bar and I don’t think the bar has been set with this”, she said.
Fellow board member Jeffery Cortinas disagreed and said he believes parents and students will be able to make the right decisions about what is appropriate to wear at school or not.
“It might not be perfect, but we’ve got to give some trust to the parents and students that they’ll do the right thing. If it’s inappropriate we’ll deal with that as it comes. I say why not let students come in pajamas for the day if they feel comfortable?” he said.
The board will vote whether to approve the new dress code at their next meeting on Oct. 5.