New Dress Code Eliminates Gender-based Rules

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New Dress Code Eliminates Gender-based Rules

Miranda Archuleta, Editor

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Significant changes have been made to the SFPS dress code. What used to be a list of rules that many felt unfairly targeted girls and their bodies is now a general set of rules that is equally applicable to both boys and girls.

For years, many female students in Santa Fe Public Schools felt that the dress code targeted them for their choice in clothing while boys were left able to wear basically anything they wanted. Girls were told to not wear short shorts or skirts, or shirts that left their shoulders bare, and a host of other rules that were often regarded as nitpicky — and sexist.

Many of the old guidelines were also subjective in that wearing Chuck Taylors or all black could be considered gang attire, a situation that many believed led to racial profiling of students of color.

Superintendent Veronica Garcia told the board at a public meeting on June 3 that “Time is wasted measuring a couple of inches here and a couple of inches there,” further explaining that the new dress code is meant to “focus on behavior rather than clothing.”

Now the guidelines are concise, easy to understand, and largely regarded as more reasonable. This allows students to worry less about what their wearing and more about their learning.

According to a June 7 press release from the district, the guidelines are as follows:

  1. Certain body parts must be covered for all students at all times. Everyone’s clothing must be worn so that their genitals, breasts, navel and buttocks are fully covered with fabric that is not see-through.
  2. Students must wear a shirt that has fabric in the front, back, and the sides underneath the arms; pants, dresses or equivalent; and shoes that are safe and appropriate for the weather, athletics, course assignments and other conditions. ID’s must also be worn at all times by high school students.
  3. Students may wear hoodies. Students can wear hoods on campus and even in class at the discretion of their teacher.
  4. Students may wear hats but are only able to wear them in class if allowed by their teacher.
  5. Sunglasses can be worn outside but not indoors.
  6. Students cannot wear clothing or accessories that have offensive images or language (i.e. profanity, hate speech, misogyny or misandry); that denote, suggest, display or refer to alcohol, drugs or related paraphernalia or other illegal activities; that will interfere with the operation of the school, disrupt others’ education, invade the rights of others or pose a foreseeable risk of invading another’s rights; that could reasonably be construed as being or having content that is racist, lewd, vulgar or obscene; that reveal an undergarment so that it is visible; that could be considered dangerous or used as a weapon or anything that covers the face (unless it is in religious observance).

(The complete guidelines and information about enforcement can be found on the SFPS website.)

Students who are in direct violation of section one or six can be asked to put on their own (different) clothing if readily available. If they don’t have acceptable clothing, they can be given temporary clothing or the student can contact their parents and have them bring appropriate clothes. (Though the guidelines have changed, the disciplinary action is largely unchanged.)

These changes can be attributed in large part to the activism of Ramona Park, who graduated from Santa Fe High in June 2018. She worked her entire senior year to change the dress code so that it wouldn’t sexualize women’s bodies or encourage racial profiling.

In an August 2017 article in the Generation Next section of The Santa Fe New Mexican, Park wrote, “Dress codes tell us that our outfits and parts of our bodies, like shoulders, thighs, and midriffs, should be sexualized. Dress codes tell us that a young man’s education is more important than ours. After all, the way we as young women dress might distract them from getting an education.”

Park argued that this taught boys that they didn’t have to control themselves or be respectful enough to focus on their work instead of on someone else’s body, and told girls that they were in some way responsible for a boy’s inability to focus in school.

Park emailed SFHS Princiopal Mr. Marano about the issue; spoke about it at a school board meeting; wrote pieces about it on her blog, in The Demon Tattler, and in The Santa Fe New Mexican; and included the issue in her salutatorian speech at graduation in May.

Ramona stated, “I am satisfied with the fact that there has been change, but we need to remember that even though the rules have changed, the people enforcing them may not have. Despite possible difficulties though, I can confidently say it is a step in the right direction.”

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