District-wide dress code policy causes large tensions

At the beginning of the 2021 school year, students were told they could not wear shirts and tops that leave their midriffs exposed while they are on Austin ISD campuses.

In my opinion, this is problematic for many girls who wear halter tops or other shirts that might show parts of their midriff. This is particularly disappointing because the Austin school district made great strides in reducing the amount of bias in dress code enforcement when it revised its policies in 2019.

Since the beginning of the current school year, some students have been told by administrators that they violate the dress code even if their shirts mostly cover their stomachs, but there is still a small portion of skin exposed. The problem is that many of today’s fashion trends include short tops that leave the midriff exposed.

This may seem trivial, but to me, this represents the old way that school districts handle dress codes that were overwhelmingly biased against girls.

Several friends of mine, including myself, are completely outraged knowing that we are not able to express ourselves through our clothing choices. Throughout the years at Akins, there have been times where I wanted to wear clothes that I finally felt comfortable with.

Now, I am being told to cover up for wearing a shirt that shows very little skin. This is particularly frustrating because I am just recently becoming confident enough to wear these kinds of tops.

Austin ISD students should be able to express themselves in any way shape or form because it is our right. The same way you mind your business when you see someone walking down the street wearing a crop top, you should use those same manners at school.

And although the district’s dress code specifically states that teachers are not supposed to express personal opinions about the way students dress, it still happens.

Senior Yahir Ibarra said she recently experienced this kind of harassment from a teacher who made comments as they were passing each other in the hallways.

“I was walking down the corner, a teacher looked at me, up and down, and said, ‘Wow you barely have any jeans’ in a rude tone. I had my ripped jeans on and yes, they’re going to be showing a little bit of leg, so honestly, that took me back a little and it made me feel uncomfortable because I was just wearing my clothes. Nothing like that is provocative, it’s kind of just a form of self-expression through the body.”

Yahir also said, “Clothes are a form of self-expression and a form of self-love because you’re expressing your body to your highest potential.”

When the school talks about our dress code and what they think of it, some may be true, as Genieve Ramierz has to say. “ I know some people go to school acting like they’re in the club or something. If it comes to that extent I understand, but if it comes to something to show like an inch or two of your “mid-drift”, that’s pretty dumb, in my opinion.”

I agree, some students may have taken advantage of the school dress code. Although, just because a few students take it a bit too far, doesn’t mean all students should be punished.