West Fargo High School’s New Dress Code is Working

2016-2017 Dress Code

Language from the 2016-2017 dress code

Ruby Ruen, Guest Contributor

Within the past couple of school years, West Fargo High School has seen quite a few changes take place. One year was cut short due to a worldwide pandemic, while the following saw the implementation of social distancing and masks. The 2021-2022 school year is no different, but one of the most noticeable changes is the updates and revisions that were made to the student handbook. 

 While most aspects of the handbook just saw small changes being made to be more applicable, the student dress code underwent an almost complete overhaul. Multiple aspects of the pre-existing dress code were revised and scrapped all together to give the school a more inclusive one. This drastic change was made in order to provide students with more choice with restrictions. As well as being more inclusive, the updated dress code was adopted in order to avoid discrimination against students and their racial identity, sex assigned at birth, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, ethnicity, cultural identity, religion, household income, or body size, type, and maturity.  

The most noticeable difference between the old and new dress code is what constitutes as a shirt. With the updated dress code, shirts are defined as something that has fabric that is on each side, front, and back that connects over the shoulder. This allows for girls to wear things such as tank tops, which were originally not allowed before any changes were made. The old dress code barred students, girls specifically, from wearing any shirt that allowed for a bare back or midriff.  

Another noticeable change that has been added to the dress code is student are now allowed to wear headwear, such as hats and hoods. As long as students’ faces are fully visible and the headwear doesn’t provide any distraction, the headwear can be worn. With that however, if students are in class with headwear on, their teacher can ask them to take it off if they deem it necessary. Regardless, this change has been accepted greatly by the student body. 

Many students saw the inability to wear items, such as hats and hoods, as completely unnecessary. They felt that there were other topics at hand that deserved more attention from staff than policing what kids wear. Unless an article of clothing or an accessory disrupts the learning environment, promotes violence and drug use, or sparks hate, it should not matter what kids wear to school to the extant that they are forced to change. Asking a student to change their shirt because their shoulders are showing if far more detrimental to their learning than some are willing to admit. 

A more relaxed dress code allows for both students and staff to avoid situations where someone needs to be asked to swap what they’re wearing out for something more “appropriate”. The school’s old dress code was quite questionable through the eyes of a teenage girl and required some type of change. The student body involves mostly underage students, and many of them felt that they were being sexualized because of the dress code. Without a revision, girls were being punished regularly for their clothing. A female student would often get dress coded for a shirt that showed “too much shoulder” or rode up and showed their midriff. Getting dress coded did not mean they showed up to school in short skirts and crop tops that promoted teenage promiscuity, but that is how they were treated. More importantly, these same girls were often punished for their body maturity. The old dress code was not equally enforced throughout the student body, so those with more mature features found themselves being punished for something they had no control over. This was affecting not only the students who identified as a girl, but also those who do not and possessed these more feminine features.   

This type of revision to the school dress code brings so much more good than some staff may be willing to admit. Just because the dress code is relaxed, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t one. Students are still given restrictions to the dress code, so teachers still hold the right to pull a student aside and ask them to change if they do not meet them. As a student at West Fargo High School, I see this as a great sign of improvement within our school. A change in the dress code goes to show that administration is listening to students and taking their complaints into consideration. The dress code had been a hot topic for as long as I can remember, and a revision to it finally taking place makes me feel as if administration cares about how students, like myself, feel.