Can Schools Control What Student's Wear?

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This article discusses the question, 'Can schools control what student's wear?'

Are you wondering when can and can't schools control what student's wear?

Can schools enforce certain dress codes? What kind of authority do they have when it comes to appearances? Who suffer the most due to school's dress codes?

According to the ACLU, "...While public schools are allowed to have dress codes and uniform policies, they cannot be discriminatory or censor student expression.

Now, what exactly does that mean? Here is a breakdown: Public schools cannot require a student to dress a certain way based on their gender or their race. If they do, it can be considered discrimination. For example, a school cannot require only females to wear skirts. This then, allows for transgender, or even cisgender, to wear clothing they identify with.

Schools can enforce many rules including rules regarding grooming and dress, except in cases where they conflict with other student freedoms such as religious freedom.

Oftentimes, female students suffer the most due to these dress codes. They are typically forbidden from wearing anything the school deems inappropriate because it distracts male students. Female students of other races are also disproportionately targeted with dress code rules. For instance, schools will require that Black students to cut their hair short. According to the ACLU, "This type of intersecting race and sex discrimination is illegal."

Schools cannot prohibit students from expressing themselves through their clothing. The First Amendment protects the rights of students to wear approved types of clothing that have expressive messages, slogans, or images no matter what they say, as long as they're not obscene or disruptive.

Note that school dress codes and laws regarding those may differ between states. While no school has unlimited rights, what rights they do have are different between each school.

Conduct research to learn what is allowed and what is prohibited at the schools near you, or send us a message to find out more.