Fort Mill Times

Letter: Dress code raises concerns

Dress code raises concerns

I have some concerns about the dress code requirements and enforcement in some Fort Mill schools. I believe these policies are creating an environment where students could feel shamed.

This week Fort Mill High School is implementing a “DAILY 2 Minute DRESS Code Observance” that will occur during the first period, immediately following the morning moment of silence. I’d like to know exactly what teachers are doing during these “DAILY 2 Minute DRESS Code Observations.” Do students have to stand up in front of their peers to see if their backsides and chest are covered appropriately? Could the students get called out and embarrassed in front of their peers? As a mother of three daughters, this formalized “observance” is a concern to me. I think any teacher can tell if a student is overtly violating the dress code and send them to an administrator without this formalized daily review. It feels oppressive to me and I don’t like it.

The problem with strict dress codes is enforcement. Does the girl with skinny legs get away with borderline length shorts while the overweight girl gets reported? Or maybe the opposite occurs. Students are aware of these injustices. It’s a minefield that just upsets kids, parents and the mostly female administrators who get stuck with this enforcement.

I’d like to see Fort Mill adopt a fingertip rule for shorts, dresses, skirts and shirts covering leggings. Fingertip rule means if your clothing touches the bottom of your fingertips while standing, it’s long enough. Many more clothing options fit the fingertip rule than the “no more than 4 inches above the knee” rule that applies at most schools now. And fingertip length clothing is not too short or disrespectful to others. Measure yourself, you’ll see.

The obsession over how many inches long is your dress is embarrassing. Is it a dress? Is it a sweater dress? Is it a skirt? Is it just a long shirt with leggings? And lets be honest, female students are taking the brunt of dress code policies. A lot of young girls experience eating disorders and self esteem issues. Can’t the schools try to be a positive influence? And, respect goes both ways. Every school should have a written policy that states students can call home and request new clothing if necessary. Being forced to wear an old, recycled gym suit all day can be humiliating. When my daughter got dress coded on her first day of sixth grade, as a brand new student in the district, I never got a phone call and my child was not allowed to call me. That still makes me mad and it happened four years ago.

I’m not against dress codes; they have a place in our society. More flexibility and less rigidity from Fort Mill administrators would make students happier and enjoy coming to school more.

Jennifer Spaker

Fort Mill