The Dress Code Debate: Student Petition Claims High School Dress Code Is Sexist

Jennifer Ricketts

The dress code debate for high school students continues once again as the weather gets warmer and students break out their tank tops and shorts. Students at Pleasanton's Foothill High School in California claim the school's dress code is sexist and biased against female students. Many claim the school isn't enforcing the dress code fairly, citing that girls are more likely to get in trouble for what they're wearing than boys. One student decided to take action.

Sixteen-year-old Sanam Nawim, a junior at Foothill High School, created a petition via with help from her cousin, Negeen Nawim, 24. The petition states those who sign want item four of the dress code to be removed because "girls are students, not sexual objects." The dress code petition has gathered over 2,200 signatures with a goal of reaching 2,500.

"It's unfairly making girls change the way they dress," said Sanam Nawim of the dress code. "It really isn't a fair dress code or a fair policy. And I felt I had all the right resources to do something about it."

Nawim's petition is titled, "Girls are students, not sexual objects. Remove item 4 of the dress code." She said her petition is about fairness rather than fashion.

"I've seen cases where guys aren't following the dress code. And they're not getting in trouble for it like the girls. I've seen guys walking around with their boxers showing," Sanam said.

The following is an excerpt from the petition, written by Nawim.

"Students who violate the dress code multiple times are required to attend an after school class on 'characteristics traits,' suggesting that girls who wear shorts to school are lacking in moral character and reinforcing an already toxic culture of making girls ashamed of their bodies. Our dress code tells girls that whether or not they want to, they will always be viewed as sexual objects. What's worse is the message it sends to boys: that it is acceptable to mistreat, disrespect, or take girls less seriously based on what they are wearing."

According to CBS San Francisco, school district spokesperson Nicole Steward says the dress code is gender-neutral.

"It's a gender-neutral board policy," Steward said. "It also applies to boys, if they were to come to school with underwear or boxers exposed with pants hanging or short shorts." Steward also added that the dress code uses standard language suggested by the California School Boards Association and that students have never been sent home or had to attend after-school classes as suggested on the petition.

The dress code guidelines can be found on the Foothill High School website. One section of the dress code states, "Clothes, apparel or attire must be sufficient to conceal undergarments at all times. Clothing, apparel or attire that fails to provide adequate coverage of the body, including but not limited to, see-through or fishnet fabrics, bare midriffs, tank tops, tube tops, halter tops, spaghetti strap tops, off-the-shoulder or low-cut tops or dresses, skirts and shorts, which are shorter than mid-thigh in length, sagging pants, and tattered or torn clothing, are prohibited."

Sanam disagrees with the statement that the dress code's language is gender-neutral and said she's seen boys wearing inappropriate clothing such as a T-shirt that read, "FBI: Female Body Inspector."

"It's a double standard to me," Sanam said.

Foothill High's principal, Jason Krolikowski, stated if he finds out any staff member is telling students their dress is inappropriate because it's distracting male peers, he will "absolutely put an end to it and we will hold those who do say it absolutely accountable." He said, "The idea that boys can't control themselves is perpetuating a rape culture and I do not support it as an ideology."

As the Inquisitr previously reported, a male student in North Carolina was turned away from prom for wearing a kilt that volunteers at the door called a dress that was too short. The teen wore the kilt to honor his Scottish-Irish heritage and was offended it was referred to as a dress. Would a female student wearing the same clothing have been turned away? It's hard to say, but this is one case in which a male student was targeted for what the volunteers saw as a dress code violation.

What do you think of the Foothill High School petition? Are girls targeted more than boys when it comes to the dress code?

[Image via Snipview]