Dress code is a topic of high controversy among high school students in America and West Anchorage High School is no exception. Students and teachers have clashing opinions, and they both want to be heard as the effort to change the dress code progresses.
In the student handbook of West states, “Clothing that allows for indecent exposure is prohibited.” The word indecent is further outlined with examples of what would be considered indecency, “Clothing that displays the abdomen/navel, midriff, chest, or that allows underwear to show,” is prohibited.
Headgear is not allowed indoors as established by West’s student handbook, with exceptions for religious reasons.
Over half of the section outlining the dress code in West’s student handbook concerns the prohibition of clothing, “that displays obscenity, profanity, sexual innuendos,” and addresses clothing that has pictures, “that promote or glamorize drugs, tobacco and alcohol” are prohibited.
Briefly, the student handbook states that any clothing that “disrupts student learning and/or the educational process,” is not allowed in school.
Masha Kling, a junior at West, describes her understanding of the dress code as prohibiting tank tops, skirts, shoulders, and visible underwear. A teacher at West, Donna Valentine illustrates her understanding of the dress code as promoting a “discreet, and not enticing to the opposite sex learning environment.”
While the parameters are one facet of the controversy of dress code, the enforcement thereof is another topic that receives a lot of attention. Valentine believes there is not an issue, as she agrees with her view of the enforcement of the dress policy and says there, “Are very few violations.”
Kling has a different viewpoint as she sees inequality in the enforcement of the policies. “Guys can get away with tank tops, and girls cannot,” Kling says in reference to the controversial issue of shoulders in which some students view a gender inequality.
Valentine indirectly comments on the involvement of gender as she says talks about her role and protocol when she sees a violation. While she has never formally reported a dress code violation, Valentine says she has talked to some girls about “driving the boys crazy with their midriff,” and given them a verbal warning.
While Kling says she sees the benefits in a dress code as it can create a professional environment, she also says that this dress code promotes a “sexist double standard that society perpetuates.”
An equally controversial issue that concerns Valentine is the prohibition of headgear indoors. This topic is generally regarded as a matter of respect by staff, and while Valentine believes students should remove hats for the pledge, she also thinks West should be, “more flexible with headgear.”
Kling believes a dress code is appropriate for any school, however, West should move towards a more professional, comfortable, and equal dress policy.