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Department of Defense schools adopt new gender-neutral dress code

Department of Defense schools adopt new gender-neutral dress code


Department of Defense schools are set to implement a new dress code that will apply worldwide starting July 1.

Department of Defense schools are set to implement a new dress code that will apply worldwide starting July 1. (Akifumi Ishikawa/Stars and Stripes)

Students at Department of Defense schools will no longer have to measure the length of their skirts and shorts, or leave their caps at home on bad hair days.

The Department of Defense Education Activity has approved a new gender-neutral dress code for students that will take effect July 1 at all 160 DODEA schools in the Pacific, Europe, and Americas regions, including Puerto Rico. and Cuba.

The policy does not include language that focuses exclusively on one gender or race- or religion-specific dress styles, said DODEA education specialist Joy Medley.

The amount of skin students can show above the knees will no longer be measured in inches or a fingertip ruler, which required a hem to extend below the fingertips with the arms hanging out to the sides.

Updated guidelines released on the DODEA website just call for sleeved tops and solid clothing (not sheer or translucent) that fully covers the top and bottom, from armpit to mid-thigh.

The rules remove a myriad of standards that sometimes differed between schools on the same basis. Barred spaghetti straps, halter tops, baggy pants, excessively tight Spandex and headbands, among others.

The new dress code is easier for families to follow and simpler for managers to enforce, Medley said.

Ripped jeans will be allowed, which Medley said the students had to approve. So will hats, which the girls especially wanted for bad hair, she said.

However, the emphasis on gender neutrality means the new permissiveness will apply to everyone.

We couldn’t say girls could wear hats, but boys couldn’t, Medley added.

Most schools don’t allow students to wear baseball caps inside buildings, she said, a rule that reflects military etiquette of removing hats indoors. They will be allowed as long as the edge does not obscure the face.

Shoes must be school safe, slippers not permitted unless approved by the principal. Open-toed shoes with a strap on the heel are permitted.

The goal, from the outset, was to create a dress code that was fair, unbiased and supportive of the learning environment while allowing for individual expression, said DODEA spokesperson Will Griffin.

Much of what students aren’t allowed to wear hasn’t changed, Griffin said. This includes anything that encourages violence, contains profanity, or depicts drugs, alcohol, or tobacco products.

If a student couldn’t wear a T-shirt with a large marijuana leaf last year, that’s still true, Griffin said.

Clothing deemed discriminatory, pornographic, obscene or promoting anything illegal is still not permitted.

When the new rules go into effect, minor infractions such as carrying something over the shoulder will not result in a student being suspended or sent to the nurse’s office until a parent can bring spare clothes.

Across the United States, stories of dress code issues have captured national attention, as schools battle with parents, students and civil rights advocates over fair standards and disciplinary action against them. apply.

DODEA focuses on teachable moments, where a teacher and student discuss what is allowed, Medley said.

Our goal is that our students don’t waste teaching time because of what they’re wearing, she said.

Discipline may be appropriate for a student’s repeated thing or attitude, Medley said.

DODEA’s Education Policy Division, along with a Civil Rights Steering Committee and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion specialists began revising the dress code in fall 2021. They reviewed the American Trends and gathered feedback from school and community members.

Some 460 responses were received from students, parents, school staff and administrators during a public comment period, with students providing the most feedback, Medley said.

They wanted to be able to express themselves, have their own individuality and feel like they were part of deciding what they could wear to school, she said.




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