Op-ed: Dress code is discriminatory

Maren DeMargel
Podcast Editor

Junior Sadie Sultzman-Buck poses in her anti-dress code T-shirt.

Webster Groves students are taking a stand against a controversial rule in the dress code. 

The rule, located in Line 3 of the Webster Groves Dress Code, reads, “Tops should completely cover the abdomen and should cover the upper body in a way that is consistent with an academic setting.” 

Under close investigation, it seems that this rule, which has been in place for years, may be a violation of Title IX. 

Title IX is a federal law that was passed in 1972 as part of the Education Amendments. According to the US Department of Education, Title IX states, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

A North Carolina court recently ruled that Title IX also encompasses dress codes. An article by the American Civil Liberties Union states, “A federal appeals court ruled today that Title IX, the federal law banning sex discrimination in schools, prohibits discriminatory dress codes in a case involving a K-8 public charter school that requires girls to wear skirts as a condition of attending school.”

Even though the Webster dress code appears to be directed at people of all genders, senior Emily Goben suggests this rule concerning abdomen coverage specifically targets feminine students. 

“Not only is this [rule] arbitrary, vague and subjective, but it also disparately and adversely impacts girls,” Goben said. “Crop tops and shirts that reveal the abdomen are marketed primarily towards women. If female students are more likely to buy and wear the crop tops being marketed to them, female students are dress coded more often than boys.”

Senior Taylor Clifton was dress-coded on the second day of school this year, an experience that made her feel targeted and embarrassed. 

“I was being scoped out while I walked across the crosswalk by administration,” Clifton said in detailing her experience with getting dress-coded. “I did not get sent home, but I was uncomfortable in my own skin all day long,” Clifton continued. 

Clifton agreed on the discriminatory nature of this rule and how it is being enforced. 

“I do feel the dress code does specifically target women because the majority of the male student body is not choosing to wear crop tops or short shirts, nor are those types of clothing pieces marketed to men,” Clifton said.

The discomfort Clifton felt after she was dress-coded both impeded her ability to focus in school that day and made her nervous about her appearance. 

“Even though I had nothing provocative on, I still felt shame in what I chose to wear that day,” Clifton said. “Something I had been 100% comfortable and confident to wear in and around the community this summer I became so, so incredibly uncomfortable and unconfident in the WGHS community.”

See Also: Students demonstrate for dress code changes


Maren DeMargel – Podcast Editor

This will be Maren DeMargel’s first year on ECHO staff, but she made several contributions while taking journalism class her sophomore year.


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