YWCA Supports Alameda New Dress Code Policy

By Heather Feibleman 

The City of Alameda changed their dress code for the new 2018/2019 school year to allow students to express themselves more freely through clothing while also relaxing traditionally sexist policies. Dress code rules disproportionately affect young girls who are labeled as distractions when they “show too much skin” by wearing tank tops, short-shorts, or crop tops. These girls may be punished and humiliated by having to change into baggy clothing from the lost and found or they could even be sent home and miss out on an entire day of school. The old policies also contained ambiguous language, which led to arbitrary enforcement at the teacher’s or faculty’s discretion.

Students now have the freedom to wear “mostly anything as long as it includes a bottom, top, shoes, covers private parts and does not contain violent images, hate speech, profanity or pornography” (Gecker). By labeling these young girls as “distractions”, these policies are implicitly prioritizing their male classmates’ education over the girls who are negatively affected by these rules. This is great news for teachers as well, who can focus their energy on teaching instead of monitoring students’ fashion choices. These students will be able to worry less about what they are wearing and more about what they are learning, which will hopefully raise the comfort levels of both students and teachers, along with test scores. The City of Alameda has taken an important step in education equity be enforcing this new dress code.