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Education

San Antonio ISD Relaxes Dress Code For Middle School, High School

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Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

The San Antonio Independent School District has relaxed its dress code for students in 6th through 12th grade.

Students enrolled in the district’s traditional middle schools and high schools will no longer be penalized for wearing hoodies or dyeing their hair bright colors.

District trustees approved the new dress code Monday evening.

Beth Jones works for SAISD’s student support services. She said the changes are based on feedback her department received from students while they were working on the district’s student bill of rights.

“Of the 2,300 comments we got from students, 466 had to do with the dress code; having to do with the ability to have free self expression around dress, hair, fingernail polish color, to ensure that there is gender equality in our dress code and to also ensure that our dress code does not sexualize body parts that actually don't have anything to do with reproduction,” Jones told trustees.

“What this means is that students will be able to wear what they like to school, as long as it, as I say, covers up from the pits to the bits.”

The updated policy states that “any restrictions to the way a student dresses must be necessary to support the overall educational goals of the school” and that “no student should be affected by dress code enforcement because of racial identity, sex assigned at birth, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, ethnicity, cultural or religious identity, body size/type or body maturity.”

The previous policy included vague language open to interpretation, including a ban on clothes that are “suggestive or indecent or that cause a distraction” and religious head coverings required approval from the principal. The new policy allows students to wear religious head coverings without exception, and also allows students to wear other hats and hoods if they “allow the face, ears to be visible to staff.”

Jones said the new dress code also makes it clear that Black and Latino students will not be punished for wearing natural hairstyles.

“If you come with a 6-inch Mohawk that keeps other people from being able to easily see the board, that is going to be a problem. But natural hair and other hairstyles, as long as it doesn’t impede the others, there’s really a lot of freedom there,” Jones said.

The previous policy banned “unconventional colors or hairstyles” that caused “distractions.” The new policy clarifies that “artificial hairstyles that obstruct the ability to see the teacher” are banned.

The new policy continues to prohibit flip-flops, steel-toed shoes and “gang-related attire.” Bans on clothing and hairstyles that contain profanity or hate speech or depict violence or pornography also remain in place.

The changes do not apply to students in elementary school or specialty schools with uniforms. However, jeans have been added to the list of clothes permitted at those schools.

“We had heard both from parents and teachers that jeans wear longer. Students also said the same thing — they're easier to find; they’re more affordable,” Jones said.

The district will look at dress code changes for younger students next year after it’s had time to get feedback from parents.
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