Editorials

Our View: School dress code flap isn't that complicated

One thing we learned from the Beaufort High School student's online rant about the school dress code is that there are a lot of experts on the topic.

A whole lot. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people shared and commented on the flame job the student body president did on her school, its faculty and administration.

Along with accusations that learning rarely takes place in a school filled with incompetent employees, sexist leaders and do-nothing classes, Carey Burgess posted three pictures of herself on Facebook in the outfit she said got her sent to in-school suspension. Supposedly, the skirt was too short. She looked like a nun, as one online commenter put it, as compared to most wardrobes today. The school was careful in saying the outfit as shown online may not have been a problem.

Suddenly, people across the nation took sides after getting one side of the story. One camp responded that students must abide by rules and should not vent online. The other side said dress codes are misogynistic, the outfit was fine and the school should have better things to do.

The issue is not nearly that complicated.

We believe dress codes are important, especially in middle schools and high schools. We can easily see bedlam without written standards that keep kids from wearing everything from swastikas to halter tops.

School uniforms also are important. They can level the playing field between the poor and rich, limit gang influences, tamp down peer pressure, ease the lives of parents, increase school spirit and prepare students for the workplace.

Students, and people across the globe, can disagree with dress codes and uniforms all they want. It's an easy thing to do. But it is not their problem.

The responsibility for dress codes lies squarely with the school principal and his or her staff. It is their responsibility to enforce the code consistently, fairly, day in and day out.

We take it as good news that the number of dress code violations in the Beaufort County School District rose from 1,940 two school years ago to 4,079 last year. It indicates more people are watching it and enforcing it.

The school district should stick to its rules. It should continue to see that the dress code is followed. It must either enforce the dress code consistently or change it. If the dress code is unfair to women, look at it. But students and experts from around the nation are not the ones to decide. Principals are.

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