The Trouble with Leggings

Is the dress code as beneficial as people believe it to be?

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Modeling different clothing (left to right) Darcy B., Emily R, Karley B.

Emily Roberts and Darcy Biermeyer

Modeling different clothing (left to right) Darcy B., Emily R., and Karley B.

This school year opened with several new changes. PVHS received several new teachers, a flock of new students, and one particularly aggravating alteration in the dress code.

  The district (along with a very puzzling “Parent Committee”) decided it would be within the best interest of the school to restrict the way people are allowed to wear leggings. Many students believed this to be a ban, rather than a restriction.

  Students are no longer allowed to wear leggings without covering it with a long shirt. Students are also no longer allowed to wear a jacket with it either, for the jacket can be easily taken off and also has to cover both the back and the front.

  Many of the students find this new alteration to be unnecessary and, well, pointless. Some view it as little more than another rule to follow, and more as a restriction of our self-expressive freedoms. However, the administration claim otherwise.

  It’s always been said that the dress code is in place to “protect the students from distractions” in the classroom, but doesn’t removing students from class due to holes in their jeans constitute a distraction? Dress coding students in class, who are there to learn, for a small rip six inches above the knee (which are more or less unnoticeable, especially when they’re sitting down) seems rather counter-intuitive.

  If dress codes were actually helping with education, as so many claim, it should become evident that the dress code is truly beneficial towards education when examining the test scores. Nye County’s test scores compared with Clark County’s gave interesting results to prove otherwise.

  Clark County’s student handbook outlines that “all clothing must be sufficient to conceal any and all undergarments,” there will be no skin showing in the midriff (stomach) area, and all shorts, pants, skirts, and such clothing must reach fingertip length. Their graduation rate is 72%, with a 63% reading and 60% math proficiency.

  Nye County’s handbook, which has a more strict dress code, dictates that “administration will have the discretion to determine the appropriateness of school attire” (meaning they get to determine what is within dress code and what is not), below-the-waist attire shall reach no more than five inches above the knee, and undergarments (including gym-shorts) should never be visible.

  However, our district’s scores paled in comparison. According to Niche.com, Nye County has a graduation rate of 69%, our district reading proficiency is at 63%, and our district’s math is at a meager 51%. Our county as a whole ranks 7th in the state, whereas Clark County ranks 4th.

  Obviously, these statistics discredit the notion that academics are the reason for the dress code. We brought this up to some of the staff that enforce the dress code, and we asked what their opinion of the reason was.

  Shawn McAdams, one of the custodians, commented, “It’s more for the protection of the students and to stop the rumors than anything else.” He brought up the point that dressing “scandalously” can often attract negative attention from one’s peers, and create a bad image.

  CJ Byron, another hall monitor, brought up this point: it’s about how women treat their bodies. She emphasized how women have fought for their rights, and dressing “inappropriately” can make one, as McAdams said, “The tramp of the school.”

  When we questioned who suggested the “ban” on  leggings, many members of the staff (including our new principal, Mrs. Ehrheart) directed us towards the Parent Committee. We were told that several parents wanted stricter dress code, and that is what prompted the decision.

  But, who are these parents? We went through six layers of people to figure that out, and in the end, we discovered this: nobody actually knows anything about it. We talked to Mr. Brockman, Mrs. Ehrheart, Mr. Odegard, and several other higher-ups, but none of were able to tell us specific details about the Parent Committee.

  Mr. Odegard told us that the parent committee was a one-time thing, but when we spoke to Mr. Brockman, he stated that it was re-occurring. That was, more or less, the only bit of real information we received. Nobody could tell us who these parents are, if they work at a school or district level, or if their kids even attend PVHS.

  We did have one pretty significant improvement when we spoke to Ehrheart. When we discussed the “five-inch rule” of shorts, she agreed that the system was a little biased. Different people have different body types, and five inches on one person could be significantly shorter in proportion to someone else.

  She asked how we would propose to change it to better suit different people, and she agreed to make a minor alteration: the height limit is now our fingertips, rather than a standard five inches.

  Mrs. Ehrheart emphasized that we are allowed to make minor changes to our school dress code, as long as it coincides with the district-level dress code. With this change, it became very evident that Mrs. Ehrheart is willing to work with the students and come to a consensus with whatever the issue is.

  Because of the district dress code, however, we can’t change the following things: midriff skin showing (no crop tops), hats or bandanas (as a matter of respect), and gang or other inappropriate designs on shirts, pants, or other such clothing.

  The staff at PVHS understand that shopping for school clothes can be difficult and expensive, but we have to abide by certain rules. However, everyone is trying to be accommodating and somewhat compromising on the dress code, so no one should have too much trouble finding appropriate clothes. They also want to prepare us for the real-world work experience.

  Nobody is trying to be the villain – even the hall monitor that dress codes you and your friends at least twice a week. School is school, not a music festival, and we have to respect that.