Most schools and workplaces have a specific dress code, whether it is strict or lenient. Sevier Middle School, like all Kingsport City Schools, has a dress code students and teachers are required to follow. Not everybody, however, feels that the rules are fair or applied equally.
There are diverse thoughts on how appropriate the dress code is to the way students act and behave. Some students, like Angelique Lurcook, believe that it is unfair that the female side of the dress code is more severe than the male side.
“Just because teenage boys can’t control themselves doesn’t mean we have to restrict the way we look,” Lurcook said.
Rachael Wagner, an 8th grade Language Arts teacher, does not feel that the dress code restricts students.
“The current dress code allows students to wear anything they want as long as it does not expose boobs or butts,” she said. “If those two areas are covered, the options are limited only by the darlings’ fashion creativity.”
Another common belief among students is that the dress code is unequally enforced between genders.
“Any clothing deemed disruptive or distracting to the educational process or that is a safety hazard is prohibited,” the KCS dress code states in the Student Handbook.
Although the dress code itself does not show favoritism, seventh grade student Dylan Klepper believes that teachers more often call out girls rather than boys for dress code violations.
“They [girls] can’t show their shoulders or a little bit of their back without getting dress coded,” he said. “Boys can wear short track shorts and won’t get dress coded but if girls even wear a shirt that shows any skin, they will get dress coded.”
Aaliyah Hensely, a seventh grade student, agreed.
“Girls always get dress coded,” she said. “If girls wear a tank top, that’s dress coded, but if boys do, nobody cares.”
“If any student is wearing a tank top, he or she will be asked to put a shirt over it,” she said.
The KCS dress code outlines the current consequences that occur when one of the dress code rules is broken is.
“First offense: Students will be required to call parent/guardian to bring appropriate attire or wear clothing provided by the school, if available, or be assigned ISS,” the Student Handbook states. “Second/subsequent offenses: First offense requirements, plus detention, ISS or OSS.”
These repercussions seem too harsh to Sevier students like Taylor Dougherty. She believes there are more appropriate consequences for a dress code offense.
“Changing if it’s really bad, but other than that, just tell them not to wear it again,” she said.
“There shouldn’t really be a consequence,” she said. “Maybe make them change.”
Wagner believes that the consequences for dress code violations are mild. Often times, students are actually punished for a very different behavior.
“Most times, if the student is humble and compliant, the consequence is simply to change,” she said. “When a student chooses to cop an attitude, a lunch detention is assigned.”
She is also quick to point out that there are many schools not as open to individual dress as Sevier Middle.
“Research shows that school uniforms improve not only the appearance of students, but also test scores,” Wagner said. “This same research proves school uniforms decrease bullying and discipline issues. If the students feel constricted by the current dress code, imagine a change where dress code equates to a uniform.”
In the end, many students feel that the dress code holds them back from expressing their individuality.
“Sevier should allow kids to express themselves by letting them wear things to show who they really are,” Daugherty said.