Con: Dress code maintains a safe and positive learning environment

Before dress codes gained popularity, Columbine High School students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold hid guns in their trench coat pockets, shooting and killing 12 students on April 20, 1999.  

Since then, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, more than half of American public schools enforce a dress code to prevent similar incidents from occurring at their own school sites. Irvine High should maintain the current dress code because it promotes school safety and a positive learning environment.

In a diverse school community, a dress code promotes a positive learning environment. According to a study conducted by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Program in 2015 across 39 countries, following a dress code in school improves students’ listening abilities, classroom noise levels, teachers’ waiting time, students’ collaborative skills and class start times. By enforcing dress codes on campus, schools can ensure distractions are kept to a minimum, thus keeping students focused on schoolwork and maintaining peak behavior. 

Adopting and enforcing a dress code on campus promotes school safety. According to Long Beach Unified School District, after enforcing a uniform policy, crimes across the school district have dropped 91%, suspensions have decreased by 90% and vandalism has decreased by 69%, all without any additional security implementations. Setting guidelines and policies that prohibit students from taking complete control of their clothing choices limits violence, decreases gang-affiliated clothing and creates a stronger sense of safety across campus. 

Some may argue that school dress codes oppress the rights of students because they limit and dictate what students can and can not wear to class. But, dress codes do not smother student’s First Amendment rights to freedom of expression, but rather limit students from abusing their freedom. In January, 2001, the 5th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the argument that uniforms dampen student expression or transgress on their religious rights. The court claimed that because the uniform policy being implemented by the school board was to raise test scores and improve student behavior, “it in no way served to suppress student speech.” Despite what some may believe, dress codes do not limit student’s freedom of expression and do not violate their First Amendment rights. Flexible or not, schools implement dress codes with the goal of promoting safety and strengthening discipline, not to oppress student’s rights. 

Schools across the world have seen many positive outcomes following the implementation of a dress code, including improved student behavior, a more engaged and focused learning environment and a decrease in campus crimes. Despite what some may believe, students are still entitled to their First Amendment rights while attending school under a dress code, even if their school restricts certain clothing choices. Therefore, Irvine High should maintain the current dress code.

Should dress code be revamped?
145 votes