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Seattle school district's new dress code prohibits body shaming

Seattle Public Schools announced in July that students and their parents or guardians would determine what is appropriate for a student to wear to school, not the school or administration itself. (Credit: Getty)

Students returning to Seattle Public Schools this fall will notice a significant change in the dress code: so long as their clothing of choice doesn't feature alcohol, drugs, pornography, weapons or hate speech, they will not be pulled out of the classroom for a dress code violation.

In July, Seattle Public Schools announced that students and their parents or guardians would determine what is appropriate for a student to wear to school, not the school or administration itself. The change in dress code will take effect starting this fall semester.

Initially, individual schools within the district decided on their own dress codes. However, the school board determined that "students should be able to dress and style their hair for school in a manner that expresses their individuality without fear of unnecessary discipline or body shaming," according to a press release from the district.

The change in dress code addresses the "disparities" between what is enforced against different groups. According to NEA Today, school dress codes have been criticized for targeting female students and students of color, resulting in less time in the classroom as their white male peers.

Seattle Public Schools’ new dress code addresses this unfair discrimination.

"Students have the right to be treated equitably," the press release said. "Dress code enforcement will not create disparities, reinforce or increase marginalization of any group, nor will it be more strictly enforced against students because of racial identity, ethnicity, gender identity, gender expression, gender nonconformity, sexual orientation, cultural or religious identity, household income, body size/type, or body maturity."

Furthermore, the new dress code addresses the concern that other students will be "distracted" by other students, instead of holding those individuals accountable.

"Students and staff are responsible for managing their personal distractions," the release read. "Students should not face unnecessary barriers to school attendance."

Under the district’s new policy, a student may be asked to leave the classroom briefly to change clothes should his or her attire violate the code. But the administration advises that “staff will use reasonable efforts to avoid dress-coding students in front of other students,” the press release says.

Toshiye Ishisaka, a parent of a student in the district, worked with the Seattle Council PTSA and school district to help draft this new policy after her daughter unintentionally violated her school's dress code.

According to KUOW, Ishisaka's daughter wore a sleeveless dress on a hot day, and the family received a copy of the code from the principal of her school.

"It was very clearly gender-biased," Ishisaka said. “Throughout the country, there has been a huge amount of bias and race-based dress code enforcement, and that often had to do with hairstyle, and particular styles of dress, it had to do with maturity, had to do with gender expression.”

The new universal dress code of the district states that students must wear a top, a bottom, and shoes, without clothing or accessories that feature hate groups, gang affiliations, or pornographic content. Furthermore, students cannot wear clothes that intentionally show private parts, or cover their face so they may not be identified, except for clothing worn for religious or medical purposes.

“My hope is that we are able to not waste time in school addressing things that just don't matter," the district's head attorney, Ronald Boy, told KUOW.

A representative for Seattle Public Schools did not immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s requests for comment.

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