Like the seasons, fashion changes quite often. With the Iowa weather switching from winter to summer right away, students are digging out their summer wardrobe. As the weather gets warmer, pants get shorter, and some students find themselves wondering which clothes stay within the dress code.


Clothes are a form of self-expression, 61.3% of Prairie students think so as well, voting that they feel they do express themselves through their clothing.


But where is the line between self-expression and staying within the school rules? To know where the line is, one must know what the rules are – and how they’ve changed.


Recently Prairie High School completely revamped it’s handbook, including the dress code. Associate Principal, Ryan Fritz, commented on the changes within the dress code concerning gender bias.


This is our second school year that we’ve been in our current practice of doing everything we could do to eliminate gender bias in this school,” Fritz said.


A long time ago the dress code used to be split into “Girls would wear this..” and “Boys would wear this..” In recent years it has slowly evolved into the gender neutral code Prairie now employs, which can be found in the Student Handbook. The code only stating general guidelines like, “Shoes must be worn at all times,” and, “Tops must have at least a one-inch strap with finished seams on each shoulder and (with arms down) must cover the midriff.”


Another section that was changed, was regarding length of shorts. It’d always been a spoken rule that shorts were to be longer than one’s fingertips. Out of the 15.6% of students who have been dress coded, quite a few were because the student’s shorts had been too short.


In the previous rules, the matter of short length was typically addressed to female students, so it was removed in an attempt to eliminate gender bias.


Fritz commented, “Generally policy was directed more at the females. So I think that’s kind of where we just kind of took [short length] out because again, we’re trying to make something that’s gender neutral as far as guidelines for dress rather than having set rules.”


However, taking shorts out of the dress code doesn’t mean that they aren’t regulated. Ever since the guidelines changed, too short of shorts “may be deemed as inappropriate or disruptive to the educational environment according to administrator discretion,” according to the handbook.


Like shorts, tank tops and off-the-shoulder shirts have also proved to be controversial. In past years males were actually unable to wear tank tops. Now any student may wear a tank top as long as the straps are one inch in length.


Off-the-shoulder tops are often subject to violating the dress code because of those “oh so distracting shoulders.” In reality off-the-shoulder shirts can be quite professional and may be taken under consideration for future rulebook variations.


In summation, the dress code had gone through some major changes to eliminate gender bias at Prairie. For those still wondering what to wear as the weather warms up, just be comfortable; usually what is comfortable for a learning environment is within the guidelines.

As Fritz said, “The most important thing is for students to be comfortable when they’re in their classrooms.”


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