La Quinta High School welcomed students back to school for in-person this school year after a year of learning remotely via Zoom. As staff and students began to find their way back into the normalities of being in-person again, students immediately began to express their concerns regarding the school’s dress code policy.
Students Speak Out
Jenna Seablom ’24 began an Instagram account on Friday, Aug. 20, expressing her opinions, as well as other students’ concerns and experiences with being dress coded at the beginning of the school year.
“My motive to start the page started when a friend [and I] got dress-coded for the first time,” Seablom said. “We were pulled out of our activity we were doing for [showing] a tiny piece of our stomachs. I was very upset that multiple girls a day experienced this, so I decided to express my feelings online.”
Seablom gained 525 followers through Instagram, where she shared student stories and experiences with being dress coded.
“I was very surprised about the amount of support the page gained in such little time,” Seablom said.
Using the social media platform to share with students, Seablom and a number of classmates planned a protest against the dress code that took place on Wednesday, Aug. 25—approximately one week after the start of the school year.
Students wore crop tops, shared signs and sticky notes against the dress code and created a Change.org page that had over 600 signatures.
“I believe that no girl should have to feel anxious about coming to school only to get dress coded, pulled out of class, or feel ashamed about her body, or what she is wearing, just because of the clothes she chose to wear,” said Seablom. “This cause is very important to me, and it’s important to a lot of others too.”
In a Google Form survey sent out to the student body by the Hawkview staff, 30.8% of the 26 students who were polled stated that they had been dress coded before.
The majority of students in the survey said they were dress coded for short shirts that revealed their undergarments and midriffs.
Rori Warren Rapan ‘25 said, “[I was notified] that my undergarments were showing and my back was revealed, [and they let] me know I had to get a shirt from the office.”
Many students have spoken out about being dress-coded. Yazmine Contres ‘24 also played part in the dress code protest.
“It inspired me when I heard that a lot of girls were getting dress coded, and I found it very upsetting,” Contres said. “So that’s when I wanted to make a change.”
Administration Changes Dress Code
After the dress code protest, administration took into account students’ opinions about the dress code. Nicole Aguirre, one of the assistant principals, shared how the school dress code works for students.
“The purpose of the dress code is just to adhere to some standards of professionalism, as well as the safety of students,” Aguirre said.
Student dress code has been in place for a number of reasons in order to keep students safe. Things such as chains, sharp objects and anything that can possibly be a hazard to staff and students is not allowed onto campus.
The main concern from students is the possible unfairness of the dress code between male and female students.
“The biggest concern that the females have had is that they’ve always been told that there’s a dress code in place because it’s a distraction to males and a distraction to the educational system,” Aguirre said.
She doesn’t want students to feel like that is the purpose of a dress code. “It really is just upholding a level of professionalism,” Aguirre said. “We’re trying to meet students halfway.”
Concerns about the protection of students from sexual violence have also been raised by staff members in regards to the purpose of the school dress code.
In a study done by The Journal of Positive Psychology and Counseling, 93.5% of the 400 students at the Niger Delta University stated that “indecent dressing can lead to sexual violence.”
In the same study, 99% of students stated that they believed adherence to the school dress code was an effective strategy for the prevention of sexual violence.
The study concluded with recommendations for the university to protect its students from sexual violence on campus. Some of these included designing programs to raise awareness and encourage students to report sexual violence, proper punishment for offenders, accessibility for students to report sexual violence and proper campus security.
Dress Code Moving Forward
Following the meeting held with students and staff regarding concerns about the dress code, a new 2021-2022 dress code was produced.
The revised dress code contains less specific guidelines, such as the length of shorts and width of tank top straps—only stating that “all tops should have two shoulder straps connecting the front to the back,” and “shorts/pants/skirts, etc. must be fitted at the waist and be of appropriate length.”
In regards to shirt length, it states that midriffs, bare backs and undergarments must still be covered.
The final line of the dress code states that there will be meetings to revisit the dress code every semester to keep up with changing trends as new information becomes available.
For now, with a response from administration, concerns and comments on the dress code from students will be given audience by staff at the semester revisions moving forward.
Additional reporting by Layla Freiberg and Miranda Muir.