Student dress codes are a universal rite of passage into adjusting into a healthy learning environment. As a result of student involvement and activism, the Fullerton Joint Union High School District (FJUHSD) dress code was recently updated to reflect changing attitudes with certain articles of clothing. The new dress code will take effect this next school year.
The last time the school administrative dress code was updated was in 1990. Junior Chloe Serrano from Fullerton Union High School is a firm advocate for this change and believes that “we need to acknowledge how this outdated lens can impact our student body and create a dissonance between us and authority.”
Serrano took matters into her own hands, and on August 24, 2021, she decided to expand her efforts and created a petition on change.org advocating changing the school dress code for all students throughout the Fullerton High School District. Serrano’s efforts for change were more successful than she had hoped, and she claimed that “the district board was incredibly receptive and open-minded to our concerns.”
Serrano said she “was able to see the mobilization of student voices and the significance it has.” With the new implementation of this dress code, not only will students have more flexibility in their choice of clothing, but they will also be able to implement a safer environment where students can easily communicate with their teachers.
One of the main proponents of this major change was the student advisory committee. This committee consists of a board of student representatives from every high school who each came together and worked to rewrite the dress code. This new code emphasized more on the regulations of dressing rather the acts of discipline that would be instituted if a student were to disobey the dress code. This new code also permitted more leniency for everyday student clothing that was prohibited in the previous dress code, such as normalizing the wearing of tank tops, durags, tops that do not go all the way up when putting one’s hands in the air, and other such cultural and gendered clothing items.
Junior Ahsha Jones from Troy High School said, “the dress code [was] very biased against specific body types, races, and dressing styles that don’t follow the gender binary.” The new dress code aims to incorporate and celebrate these various articles of clothing. Some adverse effects of the previous dress codes would be teachers allowing for only certain students to wear tank tops based on their gender or body type. Jones went on to explain that “we wanted to change the rules that foster this type of hostility towards students that do dress in a specific way…so they can feel safeguarded and accepted.”
A student-led protest before the dress code was implemented occurred at Troy High School where all students arrived at school wearing a dress after two male students got “dress-coded,” and one got sent home for wearing a dress to the Troy High School prom rally.
Junior Kamila Portero from Troy High School said that “there was a lot of ambiguity within the dress code that caused confusion on what was allowed and what was not.” This eventually led to confusion within the guidelines and caused disruptions among many students. Due to the confusion that this caused, some students were open to the idea of a complete abolition of the dress code. The newly-revised dress code is more inclusive. The District is also taking measures to ensure that the new dress code will be specific and clear to all staff so there is no confusion when it comes to enforcing it.
Although the efforts to change the dress code throughout the Fullerton Joint Union High School District can be tiresome, the student representatives continue to push on through the more than 30 years of suppression that this code has forced upon students. The student body has proven time and time again that when they raise their voice, people will answer, and change will happen.
Esha Salman is a Troy High School student.