When Austin Independent School District (AISD )students return to school next week, they will see some significant changes to the district's dress code, a result of hundreds of parents signing a petition that stated the previous dress code did not "uphold the AISD values of equity, diversity, and inclusion."
In June, AISD voted to approve the new dress code, which had not been updated since 2007. The updated dress code is meant to ensure students were not unfairly disciplined for clothing choices based on their "gender/gender identification, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, body type/size, religion, and personal style," according to an FAQ regarding the new policy sent to Yahoo Lifestyle by the director of Comprehensive Health & Mental Health at AISD, Tracy Spinner.
Dress codes, according to NEA Today, have been criticized across the nation for targeting female students and students of color, resulting in those students being sent out of the classroom and losing out on instruction time.
AISD's updated dress code will now allow students to show bra straps and underwear waistbands, as well as allow them to wear ripped jeans, spaghetti strap tank tops, yoga pants and hats.
However, according to AISD, "there is still a dress code." Students are unable to wear clothing with "language or images that are hateful or related to gangs or pornography," and they must still wear tops, bottoms, and shoes.
The goal, AISD states, it to minimize "the number of times that students are called out or excluded from class because of their clothing or body," as well as guarantee all students are treated equally.
AISD also addressed concerns that the students’ ability to "bare more skin" would be a distraction.
"AISD rejects the idea that certain students’ bodies are distracting and therefore must be monitored and covered. In our prior dress code, this was particularly problematic for girls and students who identify as girls," the district explained. "We believe that such thinking legitimizes inappropriate and/or unwelcome behavior and, by extension, normalizes sexual objectification and assault. We believe that students have the right to respect and the right to autonomy over their bodies, regardless of their physical appearance or clothing."
Furthermore, the new dress code prohibits staff from "shaming" students over their attire and appearance.
Shaming includes: "kneeling or bending over to check attire fit; measuring straps or skirt length; asking students to account for their attire in the classroom or in hallways in front of others; calling out students in spaces, in hallways, or in classrooms about perceived dress code violations in front of others; in particular, directing students to correct sagged pants that do not expose the entire undergarment, or confronting students about visible bra straps, since visible waistbands and straps on undergarments are permitted; and, accusing students of 'distracting' other students with their clothing."
The policy goes into effect at the beginning of the 2019-20 school year, August 20.
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