Public schools across the country are increasingly abolishing dress codes (“Schools Relax Dress Codes in Bid to End Body Shaming,” The Wall Street Journal, Jul. 13). Although the ostensible reason is that they inordinately targeted females, I believe there is another more pragmatic one.
The reality is that enforcement is a nightmare, even when parents buy into the policy. The time and effort involved in measuring the length of clothing and the style of clothing are simply not worth it. What I see as a far more troublesome issue is the display of offensive language and images. The U.S. Supreme Court rules that students do not lose their right to free speech when they step on school grounds. As a result, school officials will find themselves on legal thin ice if they try to prevent slogans and other expressions of free speech.
Religious and private schools are a different story. They have long had dress codes, without the same problem as public schools. (I’m not talking now about charter schools, which are public schools but are allowed to operate by a completely different set of rules than traditional public schools.)
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