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Sex, drugs and gangs: A look at school dress codes

Posted: Sunday, November 29, 2009

"When (girls) have writing on the butt of their sweatpants, it makes me feel awkward," said Juneau-Douglas High School sophomore Zac Watt, referring to the school sweatpants. "It is like they are giving me permission to look at their butt."

This is just one of the mixed messages sent by the school's approval of sexually explicit clothing. While the school dress code is aimed at making the learning process more beneficial for its students, in reality, the school is being hypocritical in what it allows and doesn't.

The first section of the dress code specifically prohibits clothing that promotes the use of illegal substances. In the past, all the Alaskan Amber shirts said the word "ale" on them. Last year Alaskan Amber redesigned the Summer, White and Pale Ale shirts so they simply say "Alaskan Summer" and along the bottom the words "Handcrafted in Juneau, Alaska." Nowhere in this new design does the shirt advocate alcohol.

When we approached Dale Staley, assistant principal of the school, inquiring if the new design was acceptable, he responded, "Nope, because they still have the company's logo on it."

As copyrighted, the logo says "Alaskan Brewing Company," and none of the aforementioned articles of clothing have this logo on the shirts. As we were leaving his office, we noted multiple infractions of the dress code right outside his door - cheerleaders with the controversial short skirts that barely cover their butts and a boy with his pants sagging literally below his knees.

The school dress code also prohibits sexually provocative or revealing attire. The cheerleading uniforms all violate the skirt length requirement of being past the length of your fingertips. When we asked a former cheerleader if there had ever been problems with them wearing their skirts to school, she replied that it was OK because they wore "spankies" under them.

Spankies are the approximate size and have the same amount of coverage as underwear. Why is it okay for the student body to see these girls' entire legs and spandex underwear? How is this not considered disruptive to the learning process of the other students?

While many sport uniforms are not fully embracing of the dress code and could be argued as being sexually provocative, i.e. the volleyball, swim/dive and wrestling teams, these athletes refrain from wearing these uniforms to school. The swim/dive team definitely pushed the limits with their team shirts from last season. They were black with the words "Get Wet" in white on the back. Some people could argue that this is merely a reference to the fact that they swim in the pool, but really, we are high schoolers and grasp the sexual innuendo.

Any clothing items that are gang related or display gang graffiti are prohibited. The word gang is defined as "a group of people who, through the organization, and formation share a common identity." By this definition, all of the sports teams are gangs. Every time a sports team decides to dress up on Fridays or before they are traveling, they are openly displaying their "gang" affiliations, yet the school supports, and even encourages this display of team camaraderie.

Graphic wording is forbidden, yet this fall the hockey team was given shirts reading "Get the Puck Out" on them as a gift from a parent. Multiple members of the hockey team have admitted to regularly wearing these shirts to school and even have teachers comment on them, yet, surprisingly, they had never been asked to change.

A student sitting on the computer next to us as we type has been wearing a shirt for the last two years that says "God hatin', booty bangin', bush wackin', mother f***ing kid" in large block print across the back of his shirt, yet he has never been asked to change or refrain from wearing it to school.

We are not saying that we should not be supportive of sports teams. We are saying that the dress code established by the school board is not enforced. The enforcement of the dress coded is extremely inconsistent and subjective to the faculty's mood. According to the definitions of the dress code, a shirt with a picture of a breeching whale should be acceptable, and shirts stating "Get Wet", "Get the Puck Out", and "God hatin', booty bangin', bush wackin', mother f***ing kid" should all be prohibited. Yet they are not.

In order for the student body to respect the rules set out by the schools, we need a level of consistency and an unchanging standard.

• Madi Nolan is a senior at JDHS and student in Ali McKenna's Writing for Publication class. She plans on going into the nursing profession.

• Senior Callie Cummins also contributed to this article. She was last scene in the high school musical "Little Shop of Horrors" as Audrey. She also is in the Writing for Publication class.



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