Afraid your school’s policies are sending the message to some students that they’re not welcome? The following resources will help you take steps—in your classroom or in your wider school community—to remedy the situation and make sure all students feel valued.
Using this lesson from the Anti-Defamation League, students in grades 6–12 can critically examine school dress codes and propose their own dress code that meets both their own and their school’s needs. Aligned to Common Core Anchor Standards in reading, writing, speaking and listening, “Student Dress Codes: What’s Fair” uses real-life scenarios as a jumping-off point for deeper discussion.
If your school’s dress code isn’t where it should be, consider using this lesson as a catalyst for change.
Oregon State Chapter of the National Organization for Women
Oregon NOW put forth this model student dress code to “address recent and escalating controversy and conversation both in Oregon and across the nation about overreaching and detrimental dress codes for some K–12 school students.” The structure of the document—our values; goals of a student dress code; recommended dress code policy; training for school administrators, teachers and students; dress code enforcements at schools—can be useful to follow as you consider how to improve your school’s dress code.
Using the structure of “Oregon NOW’s Model Student Dress Code,” draft a proposal document for revising your school’s dress code. Consult other resources to ensure the revised code is gender neutral, as well as inclusive and affirming of students’ identities.
A Mighty Girl
Biased school dress codes can leave some students feeling like their hair isn’t good enough. A Mighty Girl’s list of picture books celebrating diverse hair types can help educators affirm students’ identities.
Including books like the ones in this list—and other readings that feature diverse characters—in your classroom library signals to all students that they are welcome and valued.
When schools revise their policies to be more inclusive—particularly policies regarding bathrooms and locker rooms—the school community may have questions or concerns, fears even. These frequently asked questions from Gender Spectrum will help school leadership answer families’ questions with confidence so the school community can move forward positively together.
Be proactive! Even if your school is just starting to consider revising its policies, read this guide now. The more educated on the issues you are, the better advocate you’ll be for positive change.