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OPINION: Female Dartmouth High School students question “airport security terminals” style inspections

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By Kortney Gadbois

Dress codes have long been an issue in school especially those without uniforms, however Dartmouth High School’s approach to solving this issue is spreading into the territory of sexism and infringing on the rights and privacy of the female students.

The approach of the administration also directly disregards the Student Handbook Policies that they put forth. Female students are now being asked to dress “business professional” and to cover their collar bones so as not to be a “distraction” in the learning environment. Below is the Dress Code for DHS as printed in the Student Handbook:

The outlined Dress Code does not include the issues of collarbones being covered or business professional wear, and it also does not state that students should be pulled out of class learning time or subject to inspection prior to classes starting in the morning via “airport security terminals” as the students have named this process.

Dress codes are necessary, there is no doubt about that, however they need to be equal for all,. It is the job of faculty to ensure that students are following the dress code in a manner that is not disruptive to learning time or sexist in their targets. There have been several cases of female students being “inspected” by administrators while male faculty observed, albeit from a distance – it is still inappropriate.

On Tuesday, June 3 the inspections of students were taken a step further when all female students were pulled out of class during learning time, to be inspected for inappropriate wear. One student, who wishes to remain anonymous, questioned the administration as she was pulled out of her English class during learning time to have her outfit inspected along with her other fellow female classmates. She asked, “Who are we distracting…the boys?” The administrator replied, “No, we don’t want to single out the boys as the only ones being distracted.” Upset and confused the student replied “But you are singling out the girls.”

This inappropriate removal from class during learning time to inspect the female students clothing is taking the issue of dress code a step too far as if the “airport security terminals” were not enough to shake up the students. John Nunes, the Dartmouth School Committee Chair, had no knowledge of these happenings on Tuesday at Dartmouth High nor was he aware of the “airport security terminals” system that DHS adopted. He did state that he hopes all students are being treated equally and fairly by administration regarding any issue within the school.

Newly elected School Committee member, Chris Garth, provided some great insight to the issue of the dress code within DHS although he was not completely aware of all the attempts to inspect the outfits of the female students’ clothing. Garth stated that he believes there should certainly be consequences when the dress code is violated, however the procedure of inspecting the outfits of the students need to match the policies in place and not tread on the line of the students privacy and self-esteem. He offered the suggestion of a student written dress code that brings them closer to the issue and allows them to make decisions and will hopefully ensure they better follow the outlined policy.

This will not only allow the students to gain independence within the school community, but they will feel a boost in self-esteem and enjoy the ability to team up with administration on an issue that is so prevalent in their lives. Garth’s ideas are on the right track!

We, as the community of Dartmouth, need to rally around our students and help them gain positive body images and the understanding of where and when certain clothes are appropriate without badgering or humiliating them. Whether it be in front of a full cafeteria or the privacy of an office the insensitive ways of the administration are not helpful nor wanted and should change immediately.

This is a global issue that we can conquer within our community. We need to boost the students esteem and teach them that certain clothing is appropriate at some times and not at others.

As well as reminding them that regardless of the clothing a student is wearing, they are still equal to everyone else and deserve the same respect as others. We need to stop shaming girls for wearing certain clothing and teach the boys that girls are not sexual objects to be gawked at while passing in the halls. There should be no name calling among students because of the clothing they are wearing but a sense of camaraderie among the students and faculty of the school.

With new administration for Dartmouth on the horizon, we need to gather as a community and make choices that will promote community within the school and equality for all. As a graduate of Dartmouth High School, it saddens me to hear of this issue and makes me wonder where the community I once knew and grew up in vanished to. I hope that we can make a positive change for the future of the students in the Dartmouth Public Schools system so they can enjoy their years in school as I once did and experience a sense of community among each other and the administration of the schools.

Let us band together Dartmouth, to make the right choice for our students, to end this insensitive and unnecessary inspection of the students clothing, and focus on the positive within our schools including academic and extracurricular achievement.


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12 comments

  1. As a parent of a daughter in DHS, I, too, have taken issue with the dress code, which seems primarily focused on females and applied randomly. My daughter has been told that some attire is distracting to the boys and my response is that the boys need to get over it! This is no different than blaming a woman for being attacked because of how she was dressed. I have no problem with appropriate attire, but I’d like the administration to find shorts that come to 5″ above the knee. In addition, there is a total randomness in how this rule is applied. I find it highly discriminatory against the young women at the high school and will fight if it becomes even more restrictive and ridiculous. Collar bones are now distracting?

  2. If my father lets me leave the house without a question, then my clothing is perfectly appropriate. It is hot in that school and I’d like to be comfortable and not sweat thank you very much. Also, good luck trying to find shorts that are 5 inches above the knee that don’t make you look like a 6th grader. Nobody owns shorts that long anymore. If my butt is covered then there shouldn’t be an issue.

  3. The manner this has been enforced is discriminating and bullyish…especially towards the young females within the school. To a point that only the females have been removed from class (long shorts or not A.Costa) to be looked over and have their wardrobes criticized in front of their peers. The manner this is being enforced is much more inappropriate than the rule itself! This I believe, A.Costa, is the point of the article.

  4. Collar bones? I cant stand heat a shirt that is strangling me, doesnt mean my shirt is too revealing if it shows a little collar bone. And I cant even find long shorts for my 6yr old without looking in the boys department, not somthing my 5yr old would agree too

  5. The dress code itself is written ambiguously. define showing cleavage, because as a busty girl even in late elementary school, when i hit high school if it wasn’t a turtle neck there was some cleavage showing.
    we need to stop trying to hide our bodies and start changing the thinking that bodies are inherently sexual. if someone cannot control their urges because of an exposed collarbone or shoulder then that person needs to be re educated entirely.

  6. I attend Dartmouth High. Tomorrow will be my last day of the 2013-2014 school year. And, as an unofficial representative of the student body: the dress code is necessary. But, does that mean the young women of the student population should not complain about the controversy being sparked upon them without their consent? Should they NOT complain after being embarrassed whilst being pulled out of their classes to be inspected head to toe? What ideas are you giving young girls when you pull them out of their classes to tell them to stop being distracting? You’re being a distraction.
    I do not dress for boys. I do not dress for you. And, most importantly, if the administration would like to enforce these rules, I’d like to see them do it properly. Inform your staff of what to say and what not to say about these rules. I’m getting, “No, we don’t want to single out the boys as the only ones being distracted.” from administration in public articles; yet from my academic teachers I am receiving (Jokingly, yet all the same amounts of hurtful), “Aren’t you worried about the boys?”
    And, finally: Instead of telling young women to stop distracting boys from a young age, tell all children that bodies are not distractions. My legs are not distractions. My shoulders are not distractions. If you can not control your eyes and your provocative thoughts, that is not my problem. That is a self-control issue. To put it into different terms: My entire life, academic leaders and the schools I have attended have held campaigns and assemblies and all of that neat stuff telling me “Don’t let yourself fall into peer pressure,” but honestly, I never ONCE was told, “Don’t pressure your peers.”
    Figure it out, Dartmouth.

  7. As a female student who just graduated from Dartmouth High I can say that what the administration did was wrong. And that the way that they have been dealing with the dress code isn’t right. Depending on the year juniors and the classes under them have to do a full 180 days of school. Last year we were in school till late June and it was horrible. Our school doesn’t have air conditioning in every classroom, leaving the kids no choice but to wear less in order to not over heat. Fix those problems first before trying to punish the girls for their attire. Also take a look at fashion these days, sorry shorts are short. That’s not our fault. Clothing in general for females of a younger age are getting shorter for the summer, I agree with others that if it’s a distraction to males in the school then they need to learn self control. Don’t make us change for them, when they don’t have to change for us.

  8. Now this is taking it a bit far. These rules are being made purely for men. Somebody please try and give me a better explanation. Why are we teaching young women to be ashamed of their bodies, telling them they need to cover up parts of their body that, quite frankly, I wasn’t even aware were “tempting” or “sexual”. Collarbones? Really? When its hot out, especially if there is no AC, obviously the women of DHS are going to wear shorts. I am almost positive that when I was at DHS even the teachers wore shorts shorter than that requirement… They aren’t wearing these clothes for the boys, or even for the girls, but because they are sweltering in their longer than 5 inches from the knees shorts. Do they even sell those anymore, by the way? We are in a way protecting the learning of their male counterparts, yet women are being punished by being pulled out of class for maybe wearing a simple V-Neck. I can see a certain dress code being necessary in a high school, no doubt. But like I said, this is really taking it to the next level and is inappropriate on the administrations part. This is sexism. This is body shaming. This is patriarchy at its finest. Not only are the discriminatory rules undermining the women of DHS, but also the men of DHS. We will never rise out of this patriarch if we can’t even trust that the men can handle themselves and focus on their own learning. You are not trusting them to do the right thing, you are not teaching them anything, and your message is being sent out as, “let’s baby them, while we hold the women responsible”. Now I am sure all students of DHS deserve a lot more trust than is being given. You administrators and students need some kind of workshop to fix your thinking because as stated above me, this is the same thinking where women are blamed for being raped because of what they are wearing….
    Guess y’all administrators have a lot of learning to do. Take a lesson from the students. They seem to know…

  9. As a student of Dartmouth High School for the past four years I can attest that I have NEVER seen other girls pulled out of a class to be inspected for dress code issues. On top of that, anyone who has been flagged for dress code violations were dressed ridiculously inappropriate. You do not need to wear a see through shirt to class – there is a time and a place. While the idea that it is “distracting to the boys” is promoting rape culture and is wrong, that also isn’t the heart of the matter. The true problem is that students are being prepped to enter the professional world. Besides, this school year I have personally seen only male students get told they are violating the dress code by wearing hats or cut-off “muscle tanks”. I’m not saying the system is perfect, but people definitely need to fact check with more than a couple of teenage girls before they post articles that could spread rumors.

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