In 2020, we spearheaded our first dress code reform initiative in Seminole County Public Schools (SCPS) in Florida. After gathering 2,600+ signatures and student testimonies, our 23-page comprehensive dress code reform plan was finalized to address the gender-discriminatory practices targeting feminine students. This plan, which was sent to officials across the district, included legal arguments, student testimonies, revisions for policies, and student-suggested training for teachers. We met with staff from all over our county—deans, principals, directors, and district attorneys—to speak up about the inequity we were witnessing. In July 2021, the new Code of Conduct was released, bearing the removal of the word “cleavage” from the dress code policy. Currently, we are working to remove additional discriminatory language from the policy, but we celebrate the removal of the blatantly sexist “cleavage” provision.
The Focus of Our Reform Initiatives
Our suggested dress codes eliminate language that targets specific genders, such as prohibitions on “cleavage,” “tube tops,” and “halter tops,” or language that has prohibitions that only apply to one gender, such as “boys cannot wear earrings.” We also concentrate on minimizing enforcement discrepancies by standardizing the identification process for violations and honoring due process.
Reform has since expanded to Rocklin Unified School District (RUSD) in California, Martin County Public Schools in Florida, Pueblo County District 60 Schools in Colorado, and Lake of Two Mountains High School in Canada. Through these initiatives, we continue our legacy of combating gender discrimination in schools and promoting self-advocacy in students. We’ve successfully changed enforcement policies in Martin County Public Schools to mitigate the objectification of feminine individuals, and alongside our success in Seminole County Public Schools, we’ve used our successes to guide our future initiatives.