School Dress Codes Could Be Forms Of Sexual Harassment

At the last media company I worked for, one of the supervisors was terminated surprisingly to them and the rest of the company. But speculation grew it was because this supervisor made the other people in the office, particularly the women, feel uncomfortable when it came to their business casual attire. I heard from one of the advertising/marketing reps I worked with that this supervisor told her she was showing “too much boob crack.” Cleavage is always a selling point so if someone talks with a rep, they might be enticed to buy a more expensive ad or establish a contract.

This same supervisor would reportedly go up to other women in the company and stand over them leering at their chest area and saying, “That’s inappropriate.” They’re one to talk. At one point, this supervisor was even reportedly placing shirts and blouses on these women’s desks or desk chair as a suggestion of what they should wear. Now, for legal reasons, I’m not disclosing whether the supervisor was a man or woman or what position they held in the company. There were other issues that came out. But some employees said they felt like they were being sexually harassed.

This brings me to a issue on school dress codes. Is it possible criticizing a young woman’s attire could be considered sexual harassment? I’ve heard from young women they’ve been told it is their clothing that is making some of the young men feel uneasy. Well, doesn’t being told this make these young women feel uneasy as well? I’ve covered education and attended school myself within the last 30 years and from what I’ve seen, I don’t see any issue with what young women are wearing.

In the olden days, when most young women were wearing dresse, there was the rule about knees. Making girls and young women get on their knees to see that the dresses touch the floor is not only foolish but it’s demeaning, especially if a teacher or administrator makes them do it in front of their peers. Then, when more women started wearing shorts and skirts, there was the finger tip rule in which there had to be such a distance between their kneecaps and the tips of their middle fingers. But not everyone has the same hand size. Some people have shorter fingers. Some people have longer fingers.

Yet for some reason, when it’s game day, the cheerleaders are allowed to wear their uniforms to show their school spirit. Volleyball is becoming more popular since when I was in school and some of the young women are wearing short shorts as part of their uniform that would never pass the fingertip rule. What about young men who wrestle wearing the tights? Their uniforms are clearly very short around the bottom half. It’s the same issue with basketball shorts for both boys and girls teams.

Why is it okay when it comes to athletics, which are considered school events held on school grounds? Yet, during the normal school hours, it’s inappropriate?

Worse, some school districts aren’t even stopping at school-related events.

In Chardon, Ohio, a school board member, Todd Albright, is under fire because he reportedly was off school grounds on a street corner critiquing the dress of young students. You can read the story here: He’s lucky no one called the cops or an angry parent told him to mind his own business.

This raises a number of issues on what reach a school district has over the students in the district. Since Albright was allegedly off campus, he has no authority to enforce what students are wearing or not, if they are on their way to school or not. Since this happened in recent weeks when the weather is hot, what if someone is sunbathing or washing their car in a swimsuit or short shorts, does he have a right? Of course not.

School dress codes often target women and/or people of color. There’s been comments on how people should style their hair. I know when I was covering the Wagoner, Okla. school board, there was a comment about whether the kids could have mohawks. The argument always seems to be that it’s a distraction. But who is being distracted, the students or the faculty/staff?

Let’s be honest here. Sexual predators are rampant in our school districts. Even in Wagoner, I covered a case of a former police officer having sex with a student as well as a sports official. There were some questions about how an administrator acted around a student. The charges were dismissed but it makes you wonder if it was a true or not. My ex’s brother was on the school board and he said that a teacher got a student pregnant. A former teacher at Okay Public Schools near Wagoner who was the editor of the newspaper after I left is or was under investigation by the FBI for allegedly setting up a camera phone to record an underage student using the bathroom at his house.

Since Mary Kay Letourneau and Pamela Smart drew more attend to women having sex with teenage underage boys, it’s something more schools and law enforcements are cracking down on. From what I’ve heard from some people who went to school in the post-World War II era from the 1950s to 1970s, this was very common for woman teachers to have inappropriate relations with their students. I was at a middle school one time in which a few boys were making comments to the teacher that should’ve gotten them sent to the principal’s office. And she was wearing clothing where you could see she had a lower back tattoo, when she squatted down to pick something up off the floor.

Do schools not trust parents enough to appropriately dress their children or even question what they’re going to wear. When I was in school, it was the Big Johnson T-shirts they didn’t like and forbade students from wearing. But even some teachers took it a step further and criticized students for wearing Beavis and Butthead shirts even if there was nothing vulgar on it. While you can argue the show wasn’t Masterpiece Theatre, if someone is wearing a T-shirt with a cartoon on it and it’s covering a person’s upper body area, what’s the problem?

Going back to Wagoner, they incorporated a dress code policy that was highly criticized and very unpopular when I was working at the newspaper. The middle school students were forced to wear just khaki pants and shorts and plain white and black shirts. This meant many parents had to go out and buy their kids these clothes which were harder to find when you’re trying to find multiple white and black shirts for about 500-600 students. Some kids were just wearing the white T-shirts that were sold in multipacks by Hanes and Fruit of the Loom. So, it became an issue on whose family has the money and whose family doesn’t. Yes, school isn’t a fashion show, but kids at that age are cruel toward other kids over what clothes they wear. I don’t think it solved any problems, but just created more.

The high school incorporated a policy that all shirts and sweaters had to be tucked in. Why? Because someone could be carrying a gun in their waist band! They wouldn’t even allow people to where jackets and coats unless they were tucked into the pants. I think even the elementary schools incorporated a policy that students can’t wear shirts with stripes or whatever. I don’t know if that was true. I do know that the school board finally listened to the parents and did away with all these codes.

I don’t know why school officials have a distrust of the student body and their parents. It’s not like young men are going to show up to school wearing just speedos and Air Jordans and the young women are going to wear the see-through dress Rose McGowan wore to the VMAs when she was dating Marilyn Manson. A lot of students can’t afford their own clothes and dress what their parents can afford. Sometimes, they have to buy clothes cheap. Forcing families to spend more money on clothing just so “it won’t cause distractions” creates more hardships on people.

And just like what I’ve stated above, should the same dress attire be applied to the faculty/staff? Now, I know a lot of teachers and they dress very conservatively, for lack of a better word. You would never even question if what they were wearing was inappropriate. But some teachers might want to flaunt it a little. Should students be allowed to see lower back tattoos, otherwise known as “tramp stamps” on teachers? Anyone remember the old “nuthugger” shorts P.E. coaches used to wear? The waistband is pulled up to their damn navels and they’re in no way they’re meeting the fingertip rule.

There’s also the question of inclusion in regards to the LGBTQIA community. What if an 18-year-old is starting to transition and they want to wear a dress or more masculine clothes? I’ve often felt the senior year in any student’s life is the most oddest. They’re mostly 18. They can vote. They can serve in the armed forces. Yet, they’re still having to deal with an anal rententive control freak who should be teaching algebra but upset someone is chewing gum in their classroom.

Unforutnately, school districts are known for knee-jerk reactions. School shootings have led to so many changes over the years it’s hard to get students interested anymore. At the same time, elected officials are refusing to give educators decent wages for their education, certification and years on the job so they’re moving to other districts where the pay is better or just finding another job altogether. Since Covid-19 and a resurgence in book banning, some educators are fed up with dealing with helicopter parents, and just getting out before it’s too late.

I think the last thing any student at school needs is to be made uncomfortable because someone feels their blue jeans are too tight. While some school organizations, such as the Ruth Project, are pushing back against archaic and biased policies, I feel there is a sexual harassment lawsuit out there brewing or one that hasn’t made the headlines yet. Eventually, a teacher or administrator is going to say the wrong thing and a lawyer will be willing to file a lawsuit. And this might set a precedent for all school districts.

If there is any grown adult, man or woman, who feels uncomfortable around any student who may be wearing a cheerleader uniform, volleyball uniform, or just plains regular dress or blue jeans, there’s a reason they’re not allowed within so much distance to a school or park.

What do you think? Please comment.

Published by bobbyzane420

I'm an award winning journalist and photographer who covered dozens of homicides and even interviewed President Jimmy Carter on multiple occasions. A back injury in 2011 and other family medical emergencies sidelined my journalism career. But now, I'm doing my own thing, focusing on movies (one of my favorite topics), current events and politics (another favorite topic) and just anything I feel needs to be posted. Thank you for reading.

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