September 12, 2022 – West Bend, Wi – Students in the West Bend School District spoke out during the public speaking portion of Monday night’s meeting wondering how their midriff and bellybutton could be such a huge distraction in class and why they were being removed from class and punished because of a dress code violation.
A majority of students who complained were girls who labeled the enforcement a double standard.
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Adrian, a senior at West Bend East High School, questioned the enforcement of the dress code by administration which claims is due to “quote unquote safety reasons.”
“We’re told no excessive cleavage and boys are allowed to take off their shirts when they’re hot at a school practice or a game,” she said. “My friends and I are not even allowed to show just an inch of our stomachs. I also believe this dress code is unfair to the ever-changing temperatures in our school. Another thing most people don’t like to acknowledge is that girls with periods, this change of hormones can cause us to be hotter than we normally would be. So, it’s easier to have hot flashes and almost pass out.
“Why am I being pulled out of class and told that my shirt was too short, and I needed to change but I don’t understand why an inch of my stomach showing is enough of a problem to obstruct my learning. I also don’t understand where the dress code is an ethical problem.”
Female students also spoke about:
- colleges don’t have any dress codes
- the clothes we choose to wear are some of the more appropriate things that are currently trending and sold in stores.
- Female students claimed, “this policy is clearly unfair.”
School administration followed up with some discussion acknowledging a dress code violation begins with a phone call home to the parent/parents to the student changing into different clothes.
“We’re really focusing to channel this through student council and hoping they can provide input,” said Emily Melstrand, director of student services.
Superintendent Jen Wimmer said the dress code is covered under policy 443.1 and that blankets the entire district. “The student handbooks further articulates the policy language,” she said.
There has been a lot of student feedback, according to Wimmer. “There are kids who had trouble navigating those expectations and what’s the wiggle room with changing fashions.”
Wimmer said their analysis doesn’t require a policy change. She said she will work with administration and student council and keep discussion on the table.
“I don’t see a shift in policy yet,” said Wimmer. “We certainly don’t want to run around chasing kids, and we don’t want students to think they’re being targeted. I will speak to this at the next board meeting.”
Wimmer said her first meeting with the student council is tomorrow and she will provide an update and continue communication.