Sexism in Dress Code Enforcement


Picture by Violet Mbela

By Violet Mbela, Staff Writer

As school starts back up again with a new class of freshman, there is a certain adjustment period to be expected. This year especially, there is a lot of change to become accustomed to, whether you are a senior or a sophomore. ID checks and tougher security measures have taken some time, but that particular change has been taken up with very little resistance. It is the stricter dress code, however, that is facing the most criticism and opposal- as well as the most disgruntled students.

It is no secret that Quartz Hill has always had a semi-strict dress code. In previous years, Quartz Hill has had a rigid “QHHS hats only” policy, but in the new school year, appropriate hats of any kind will be allowed, urging students to believe the dress code is becoming more lenient.

But this step forward is shaping up to be a result of two steps backwards. With our new principal, this stricter dress code seems to only be affecting the female population of Quartz Hill. Although the administration is painting the dress code changes as completely equal and fair in nature, there are many trends shown in this change that point towards another conclusion.

From the beginning, girls’ dress code has always been enforced as a byproduct of “reducing distractions.” But that immediately begs the question of, who are girls “distracting” and what effect does that have on a school/classroom environment? The argument of any exposed skin on a girl’s body “distracting” the male gaze in school is old-fashioned and sexualizes young female students. Yet, here we are again, this time a little too close to home. Female students are being turned away from school at the gates because they are showing too much shoulder or midriff, or a bit of a bra strap. These things are all natural parts of the female anatomy and are not sexual in nature (in fact, there should be more worry if a bra strap wasn’t there to be seen), yet they are hindering these students from getting the free education they are entitled to.

That brings me to my next point: activewear. Students who have or are currently participating in a P.E. class have likely noticed that depending on the teacher, boys are allowed to run and carry out their physical activity while shirtless. This also applies to the members of the boys’ track and field and cross country teams. Despite this, girls aren’t allowed to wear tank tops or spaghetti straps (or, heaven forbid, a sports bra) while exercising. This was also the case with Halloween costumes: there was a blatant show of prejudice considering the female to male ratio of the students forced to go home or change out of their costumes. Minor offenses like heavy SFX makeup or fishnet tights were apprehended seriously, while male students wearing ski masks over a majority of their face and harsh gore were left unpunished. Our administration is doing a great job in the face of the difficulties posed by the growing population of students, but even a great administration can stumble in places.

Now, I am not advocating for girls to be permitted to run around topless with no regard for the school, but I am asking for a bit of consistency in the enforcement of the school’s dress code policies. Education should not come with conditions based on gender.