As if getting dressed for high school wasn’t tough enough already, for some students in Staten Island, N.Y., wearing summer’s hottest trends — crop tops, cutoff shorts, and flip-flops — could mean detention slips. But many are fighting against the policy, and nearly 200 students have already worn their favorite threads in protest and proudly served time for it, according to the New York Post.
For the 2014-15 school year, which started on Sept. 4, Tottenville High School in New York City implemented new stringent rules that prohibit girls from wearing shorts or skirts that don’t extend past the students’ fingertips when they have their arms down at their sides, low-cut or midriff-bearing shirts, leggings, skinny jeans, and more. This directive, called “Dress for Success,” says “students do have the right to determine their own dress except where such dress is dangerous or interferes with the learning and teaching process,” according to a statement from Superintendent Aimee Horowitz.
To dispute the dress code, many teen girls at Tottenville High School are wearing overtly revealing outfits. About 90 percent of the detentions due to dress code violations have been issued to female students, the Post reports. First-time offenders receive a warning, but a second infraction warrants a phone call home to parents, who are then asked to bring replacement clothes for their kid. Or if the parent or guardian is unavailable to do so, the student will be provided appropriate clothing.
While the dress code applies to the entire student body — hats, bandanas, hoodies, sunglasses, do-rags, earplugs, headphones, spiked jewelry, muscle shirts, and wallet chains, are also on the list of banned apparel and accessories — many have balked at the decree for being blatantly sexist.
Some students have shared their frustrations with the fashion police on social media. “I didn’t go to public school to be told how ‘I’m allowed’ to express myself … I can respect myself 150% and still wear shorts and a tank top,” Katelyn wrote on Twitter. “Maybe instead of worrying about what I’m wearing, you should worry about the fact that I’m going to graduate high school with next to no life skills whatsoever.” Others have shared photos of their rule-breaking outfits that have led to detention.
Instead of empowering students to dress professionally and take their education as seriously as a career — which appears to be the dress code’s intention — it seems to have backfired. And when there are literally hundreds of students sitting in detention, high school administrators may need to consider adjusting the new, controversial rule.