Student Macey Austin wants to know if her jeans are inappropriate. She captioned this photo, “let me change real quick bc I AM OUT OF DRESS CODE yes showing absolutely NOTHING.” (Photo: @maceyaustin_/Twitter)
The war on bullying has opened a new front: skinny jeans.
A school district in North Carolina amending its current dress code is considering prohibiting students from wearing “leggings, skinny jeans, and any other excessively tight fitting pants, unless they are covered by a top or dress.” The entire posterior must be concealed, and dresses, skirts, skorts, and similar garments must meet the same criteria. Crop tops, spaghetti straps, and gang-related apparel also would be banned under the new changes.
The New Hanover County school system’s updated policies were put forth at a meeting last month and are still under review.
Jeannette Nichols, the school board’s vice chair, told Fox Wilmington that one of the reasons for introducing the tight pants ban was that some of the “bigger girls” were being bullied.
Officials have asked for feedback, and many students, parents, and at least one school board official have taken to social media to air their concerns.
“I think that it is dumb because skinny jeans are the only thing that fit me and all the other are to big on me,” Robert Chapman wrote on Twitter. Another questioned why it matters what the student body wears as long as their legs are covered. “It shouldn’t matter what we wear but what effort we make towards helping students pass their grades and helping education,” Tiffany Harker commented. Kaitlyn Johnson noted that she and her peers go to school to learn, not to be judged. “Teachers show more than us sometimes, focus on the education,” she added. Amy Koresko, a parent of a student in the district, said that the motion, called Policy 8520, is very gender biased. “It’s our job as parents to monitor, not the schools.”
Many students have opinions longer than 140 characters. (Photo: @amber_rayy/Twitter)
But on Tuesday, May 24, fellow school board member Lisa Estep broke from her peers and voiced her concern about Policy 8520 on Facebook. “According to the news, the reason given by one of my fellow School Board members for this proposed change was that a ‘bigger girl’ was being bullied,” (presumably for wearing skinny jeans). “As a 6'1” 'bigger girl’, I grew up being teased, bullied, and ostracized at different times in my life. And I know, to my shame, that sometimes I wasn’t so nice myself. Guess what? You can’t legislate kindness. But you can teach it. You can’t legislate compassion. But you can live it. As a system, we should, as best we can, foster an environment where all students feel included and valued,“ wrote Estep.
"Will we be able to completely solve bullying?,” she asked. “No, because many students bring with them emotional baggage when they get on that bus or walk through those school doors, and some of those problems, which lead to anger or behavioral issues, are beyond the school system’s ability to fix. And let’s face it, sometimes- baggage or no baggage- some teenagers are just stupid, and say and do stupid things. So we should enforce the current no tolerance policy on bullying, and take seriously any student who comes forward with such claims.”
“But more importantly,” Estep contunied, “we, as a system should continue to teach our students and show our students how to be kind, and compassionate, and give them plenty of opportunities to be inclusive. I, as a parent, should be doing this every day (some days are better than others). …But I, as a School Board member, should not try to equate dress code restrictions with helping to combat bullying.”
There’s no word on when a final decision will be made, but the district thanked students on social media for sharing their opinions and noted that responsible comments would be shared with the board.