pictured: Anabella Garcia, grade 10
Starting with the first day of the 2023-2024 school year, students have more freedom to express themselves because of the new adjustments to the rules. Sophomores, juniors, and seniors all remember last year’s strict dress code. The majority of people at Leonia High School agree that the updated dress code is an effective change.
“The dress code is so much better,” said sophomore Hudson Ascolese, “The stupid rule of having no hats was finally removed. It’s definitely the start of many changes at this school.”
English teacher Ms. Mulholland provided some background on the issue, saying “Dress codes are historically sexist and often place responsibility on female students to police their bodies in a way that is ‘not distracting’ to male students. This is harmful (and heteronormative!) because it incorrectly sets forth the idea the way they look is responsible for other people’s behavior.”
Leonia High School staff and faculty were also affected by the changed policies for students. “I think it alleviates a lot of responsibility from the teachers,” commented English teacher Mr. Morrissey, “it allows the teachers to teach rather than enforce policy. I think that giving some responsibility back to the students and allowing them to express themselves is always a beneficial aspect of the school.”
Another teacher, Ms. Pincus from the art department, said, “I like it partly because I’m a fan of baseball hats and I’ll be able to wear them. It also allows more self expression, but it can be dangerous. It’s going to be interesting to see how students use this newly found freedom.”
Mr. Kalender agreed to be interviewed to answer some questions about how the new dress code came to be. Here is what he had to say:
Why weren’t students allowed to wear these pieces of clothing before, including ripped jeans, tank tops, crop tops, etc?
“The former dress code had been in existence for many years. Many of these policies reflected outdated and sexist stereotypes.”
What influenced you and Mr. Servis to allow this new dress code?
“Mr. Servis and I decided that there was a need to revise the dress code as it was old and outdated. We spent a great deal of time discussing the former dress code guidelines. In addition, we spent the last two years discussing the dress code, among other school guidelines, with students in the Principal’s Cabinet. Last year, we met with the teaching staff to get their input as well.”
Whose idea was it to create a less strict dress code?
“It was not one person’s idea, but rather listening to the various constituents here at LHS and realizing that it was time for a revision of the guidelines. In revising the guidelines, we looked at various distincts around the country that had progressive dress code policies for guidance.”
It was difficult, especially for girls, to wear clothing that fit under the weather conditions without having to cover themselves up. “I wasn’t allowed to wear anything I wanted,” informed senior Aleidy Mejia Diaz, “ I had to wear a jacket to cover up the crop tops or tank tops I was wearing even if it was hot outside.”
Many think it’s great that girls can wear more freeing clothes, but that does not mean there aren’t people who disagree. Some students believe that the new dress code went a bit overboard, making the school unprofessional. “I think that they went a little overboard because I see a lot of girls who are wearing tops that are not really appropriate for the school setting, and although it’s not something that is bringing harm to others, I think it will play a big part in the school’s culture wearing exposing stuff like that,” said junior Eun Shin, “It’s not very professional in my opinion. I think other things like ripped jeans and shorts are perfectly normal.”
“I think that there is a way you can see that the dress code was kind of sexist because girls weren’t allowed to wear shorter clothing and show shoulders,” said junior Samantha Giangarra, “In a way, there wasn’t a logical reason for that. The perspective of hiding your body was targeting the girls.”
The Leonia High School community is very thankful for the new dress code. The changed policies have helped create a freeing atmosphere and a better learning environment where students can express themselves much more.