EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story mistakenly included information about conversations between students and their teacher. This information did not meet the Courier’s standards for verification and reporting. Therefore the Courier has removed this information from the article.
On the Calabasas High School website, you can find the school dress code under “Policies and Procedures.” This dress code is longer than the school policy on sexual harassment. It is concerning that CHS has more to say on policing the way students dress than they have to say on sexual misconduct. In reading the CHS dress code, you will see that it covers clothing that is unsafe, gang-related, printed with “vulgar words” or pictures and clothing that is “unduly revealing or attire which detracts in any way from the educational mission of the school is not permitted.”
The dress code defines “revealing” as many interpretations, including clothing that exposes “the chest, midriff, back or undergarments.” Yet, at the first pep rally of the year, a male student who was volunteering for a game took his shirt off. There was no interference from ASB or faculty members.
Incidents such as this are an example of the way schools enforce different standards for boys and girls. There are quite obvious double standards when the chest of a male student is less sexualized than that of a woman.
These dress codes often mirror victim-blaming and rape culture. There is a poster in the administration office at CHS that states “Why do we have a dress code.” The first point says “To promote self-respect.” These are just the kind of sentiments that are used against women to demean them for wearing “revealing clothing.” This is the kind of mindset that asks victims of sexual assault “What were you wearing?” By making modesty equal respectability, we are telling young girls that they only deserve respect if they are covered up.
The larger problem with this mindset is that it perpetuates the sexualization of teenage girls. The way school administrations enforce dress codes effectively amount to blaming teenage girls for any unwanted attention from other students. Girls are often told to cover up instead of boys being told not to stare.
Calabasas High School and other LVUSD schools should get rid of dress codes entirely. CHS should be a place for learning and a place for growth. By keeping sexist dress codes in place, administrators are teaching girls that they are the problem. Dress codes ingrain sexist, victim-blaming rhetoric into the minds of students and teach girls to blame themselves for sexual harassment and assault. Removing the dress code would be a step in the right direction.