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Teen Boys Wear Dresses to School in Protest. This Is Why

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Many schools have dress codes, just as many jobs do. Buchanan High School in Clovis, California, has had the same dress code in place for decades, but some students are getting tired of the archaic rules that don’t seem to be modernizing with the times. So, they’re protesting.

According to Buchanan’s policies, boys are not allowed to have long hair or wear earrings, which in a society that is learning more about gender fluidity, this is definitely outdated. Last week, the school board held a vote to decide if the dress code should change, but decided to uphold the original rules in a 4-3 vote. The next day, students protested: Boys showed up to class in dresses, while many girls wore pants and shirts that said, “Dress code sucks.”

READ: My Daughter Is Obsessed with Superheroes And I Think It’s Awesome

According to current Senior Emma Sledd, the point of the protest was simple: They wanted to show that the way someone presents themselves has nothing to do with a person’s sex or gender, and is a very personal choice:

“The reason we switched gender norms for the day was to make the statement that what we wear does not define us as students. Our district’s dress code should not favor or discriminate any gender. We believe everyone should be able to express themselves equally. A boy with long hair is no less of a hard worker than a girl with long hair.”

It is especially pertinent to point out that the school’s dress code does violate California law, under which gender expression is a protected category. Because of this, the American Civil Liberties Union is researching on whether a lawsuit can be a viable course of action. In the meantime, an online petition is going around asking the school board to approve a gender neutral dress code. The petition has already gained around 4,000 signatures.

Personally, as a former teacher and self-identified quirky girl, I truly love what these students are doing. Besides the fact that I firmly believe someone’s personal aesthetic and fashion choices should strictly be their own, primary education is the prime time kids develop their personality and experiment. It’s not only unfortunate, but extremely limiting, for a school to hinder a student’s development. I’m also kvelling with pride, because the protest was respectful while firm–which is an indication of the students’ maturity levels.

It’s about time that it’s acceptable for boys to sport long hair, and girls to don short hair. Gender norms and stereotypes harm kids, who then grow up into adults who end up perpetuating the same ideas they grew up with.

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