The topic of school dress is always a very sensational argument due to the passion displayed by both sides of this issue. Some believe students should wear school uniforms, while others believe students should dress how they want. Both sides provide compelling arguments for their stand, but students are the victims of such decisions, and all the arguments must be analyzed from the student’s point of view. Those in support of having uniforms for all students claim that personal dressing may be inappropriate, causing distractions. The boundaries of students may sometimes extend beyond the code acceptable by the society they are educated within. This essay demonstrates the importance of allowing students to dress in their preferred manner. However, for ethical and moral reasons, students should dress appropriately and avoid inappropriate and demeaning clothing. The choice of deciding what to wear is accompanied by the immense responsibility of ensuring that their morals are not compromised; it is, however, pointless and unnecessary to impose a dress code on students.
Some of the ethical challenges the imposition of a dress code for students presents include the violation of their boundaries. The mode of dressing is a very personal choice that should be respected by all people (Guertin, 2017). Students should not be denied that choice by being under the authority of the learning institution. The dressing is a part of human culture that is usually well thought out before the decision on clothes is reached. People consider the occasions, personal preferences, fashion trends, and moods before deciding what to wear. Prescribing a dress code for students violates these choices and their boundaries in general.
Dressing is a mode of expression, demonstrating free speech rights guaranteed for all; hence a dress code for students violates their constitutional rights. Free speech is a critical human right whose expression has been vital in ensuring human development and achievement of great success (Barrett, 2018). Impeding this right for students is not only a great human rights violation but also a suppression of their ability to express themselves in the future freely. The abuse of this fundamental right is the recipe that precipitates the violation of other rights for these students. Students should be allowed to practice free speech through their choice of clothing.
Various religious practices require their followers to dress in a particular manner. Hence school dress codes violate the rules of various religions. Religions are a crucial part of human civilization and have been an essential part of development through the centuries. People treasure their religions and, in most instances, adhere to their teachings faithfully. Restricting religious expression through dress codes amounts to religious discrimination (Barrett, 2018). To prevent this, there is a need for students to make personal choices regarding their dress.
The harsh dress codes in schools are punitive for female students who particularly take a keen interest in their dress. Amongst female students and women in general, dressing and appearance are paramount, amounting to their overall beauty. Dress codes in school specifically target this group, making their lives unnecessarily difficult in the process, and ultimately affecting their confidence (Whisnant, 2021). Therefore, female students’ self-esteem is compromised and affects other facets of their lives (de Rooij, 2022). Eliminating school dress codes is an essential step in ensuring that female students are confident in public and capable of expressing themselves without worrying about their appearance.
Different cultures allow their members to dress in a certain way. Therefore, the prescription of a school dress code impedes culture. Culturally, dressing is an integral aspect of many societies across the globe and a source of great pride. Respect for all cultures is the hallmark of human civilization; there is a need for the educational system to demonstrate this crucial respect and honor it. Cultural dressing illustrates identity for many cultures and is used to portray their uniqueness, which makes them appreciated (Dimauro, 2020). Elimination of school dress codes is a vital step in ensuring the culture and practices of such groups are not violated.
Students in most schools come from different economic backgrounds. The imposition of dress codes might impend the finances of some families. School uniforms are expensive to procure regularly, as many school regulations require (Samuels, 2020). Less privileged families have to contend with making sacrifices to secure these uniforms when students could attend school in their regular clothing (Dimauro, 2020). Eliminating dress codes is a step in the right direction to ensure parents do not suffer economic hardships.
The use of dress codes in schools is a divisive factor that only promotes surface uniformity and still allows bullying. Others can bully students based on their ability to afford school uniforms (Britannica, 2021). Students who cannot afford school uniforms usually use a single set of uniforms for a prolonged time, making them worn out (ProCon, 2018). Students who can afford them usually take advantage and use this as a point to bully and attack those unable to afford uniforms.
Uniforms impede the self-image of students who would want to display themselves in a certain manner. Dressing communicates volumes about a person before even engaging them in conversation. Students undoubtedly have identities and self-images they would love to portray to the outside world, and this ability is impeded by dress codes. Self-image informs self-identity, which is a crucial component of a human being robbed by school dress codes (ProCon.org, 2018). Abolition of dress codes is vital in enhancing the self-image of students early, allowing them to create an identity during this crucial formative stage of their lives.
The push for school uniforms is also a form of bullying because this decision is pushed solely for economic reasons rather than educational motives. School uniforms are immensely financially beneficial to those who sell them to the students. Some uniform makers are affiliated with the people responsible for pushing students toward a school dress code. This means that the purchase of school uniforms from a specific maker by students from a specific school ensures the profits are recurrent (Britannica, 2021). This illustrates the dishonesty of those advocating for the implementation of a school dress code and the lack of need for its abolition.
Dress Code Effect on Attendance, Diversity in School
Research indicates that school attendance is not affected by the kind of dressings a student embraces. The same study concludes that students who have uniforms are not in any way better behaved than their counterparts who make personal choices regarding their dressing (Grabmeier, 2021). This makes it difficult to understand the essence of school uniforms as a whole for students. In the absence of school uniforms, students are not likely to disrespect their teachers, parents, guardians, or other members of society. In this respect, the abolition of school uniforms makes sense because it does not affect morality and children’s upbringing in any manner.
School uniforms promote uniformity at the surface level, eliminating the diversity that exists among people. People must maintain the aspects that make them different for the glamor and flavor of life. School uniforms create similar-looking people within the schools, hampering the uniqueness of each person and the expression of their preferences (Croteau, 2020). Elimination of school uniforms is a necessity to ensure that diversity is safeguarded and people display the differences in dressing that make them unique. In place of school uniforms, it is essential to insist on a personal dress that is appropriate, respectable, and does not cause distractions.
Those in support of school uniforms make some compelling arguments, with one stating that dress codes make students feel more inclusive. The proponents of this viewpoint argue that dress codes eliminate the differences that may impede the ability of students to learn. Uniforms are also said to confer a similar identity to all students as members of a specific school, eliminating the differences that may exist. Differences amongst students regarding their economic abilities are shielded by school uniforms and cannot be identified as an identifier. This, according to the proponents, ensures that students can learn without worrying about the variations in their lives, guaranteeing comfort within the school environment.
Pro-uniform advocates propose that school uniforms eliminate distractions. Regular dressing amongst students is seen as a cause of distraction, especially when the clothes are provocative, exposing some parts of the body. Such exposure is associated with a lack of concentration and focus, resulting in diminished performance for some students. The proponents in support of school uniforms argue that imposing uniform dressing will boost performance for all students, unlike personal dress codes (Bonneville Academy, 2019). They, therefore, argue that it is essential that each school comes up with a uniform that reflects the institution’s desires and imposes it upon all students.
An additional argument in support of school uniforms is that school uniforms enable the teachers and management of schools to spot trespassers. This implies that they can be recognized based on their school, enabling quicker tracing and identification (Bonneville Academy, 2019). This is crucial in eliminating such offenses among students since they can be easily identified. The fear of identification will instill fear into them and reinforce discipline. This is because most people who commit crimes do so with the hope and knowledge that they cannot be identified. The guarantee that uniforms can ensure effective tracing and identification is, therefore, a discouraging factor, in boosting discipline.
In conclusion, dress codes in schools should not be reinforced since the negative impacts of such a decision outweigh the positive benefits. The imposition of school uniforms will promote discrimination in all the sectors already discussed. School uniforms are also responsible for some socio-economic issues, resulting in further discrimination. There is a need for schools and the education sector, in general, to carefully consider this issue. The right decision would be to allow students the choice to decide what to wear while also reasonably demanding responsibility from them. This great freedom should be accompanied by the responsibility of students to dress in a morally upright manner. Their dress must be decent and incapable of causing distractions for other students.
Barrett, K. (2018). When School Dress Codes Discriminate | NEA. Www.nea.org; National Education Association.
Bonneville Academy. (2019). What are the benefits of the school dress code | Bonneville Academy. Bonneville Academy Charter School.
Britannica. (2021). Pro and Con: School Uniforms | Britannica. Www.britannica.com.
Croteau, J. (2020). Why School Dress Codes Need to Pass the Diversity Test. We Are Teachers.
de Rooij, T. de R. (2022). Dress code – THIS IS GENDERED. This Is Gendered.
Dimauro, M. (2020). Dress-Coded: How current dress codes undermine cultural, gender, and socio-economic equity. Journal of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (JELPS), 1–8.
Grabmeier, J. (2021). School uniforms don’t improve child behavior, study finds. School Uniforms Don’t Improve Child Behavior, Study Finds.
Guertin, A. (2017). Arguments Against School Dress Codes. LoveToKnow; LoveToKnow Corp.
ProCon. (2018). School uniforms emphasize the socio-economic divisions they are supposed to eliminate. – School Uniforms – ProCon.org. ProCon.org.
ProCon.org. (2018). Uniforms may have a detrimental effect on students’ self-image. – School Uniforms – ProCon.org. ProCon.org.
Samuels, C. A. (2020). Why Do Schools Hang On to Discriminatory Dress Codes? Education Week.
Whisnant, E. (2021). Dress codes are biased against females. The Dispatch.