Alpine School District adopts new unisex dress code

Alpine School District board members discuss and implement new district-wide dress standards. These revisions are the third time the dress code has been updated since 1983, and eliminates the prohibition of hats in a new unisex approach to dress code enforcement. (Alpine School District School Board Livestream Service Account)

Utah’s Alpine School District updated its dress code on the evening of Oct. 11 to incorporate a more unisex approach into school clothing guidelines.

The dress code, Policy 5152 of Alpine School District, says “dress standards promote a learning environment free of unnecessary disruption” and that parents are primarily responsible for their students’ dress. The dress code has only been updated three times since 1983.

The district defined “disruption” as reactions by other individuals relative to clothing choice that may lose the attention of students, modifies or ceases instructional activities, or causes instructors to have to “deal with unreasonable student confrontations or complaints.” 

The Alpine School District updated its dress code policy on Oct. 11, generalizing guidelines for both genders in a unisex approach to clothing expectations. (Alpine School District)

An informal survey was conducted with 22 principals in the school district prior to policy revisions, with 20 of the 22 administrators saying “guidelines for areas of the body that should be covered” was their top priority. 

In response to this, board member Ada Wilson shared how the new policy aims to address this concern.

“Our hope is that it will give our administrators some definitions around what they are trying to enforce,” she said. “The real important thing is that it be consistent.”

The proposed revisions of Policy 5152 in September stated that “clothing must cover the body from the left to right armpits and from the top of the shoulder down to a few inches above the knee.” However, the wording was changed to provide a non-comprehensive list of examples, including “clothing that reveals the stomach” and “shorts or pants that expose the thigh or are excessively short.”

In response to the revised wording of “pants that expose the thigh,” board member Julie King said, “Finding shorts that do not expose your thigh is really tough, especially if you’re a taller girl. I don’t think that’s where we should draw the line. It’s going to be too restrictive.”

“I have a 12-year-old and it’s virtually impossible to buy her shorts that come all the way down,” board member Amber Bonner said. “I think mid-thigh is fine, and that’s what your picture is showing right there. There is thigh exposed on that graphic right there.”

The revised dress code for Alpine School District takes a unisex approach to clothing guidelines. The new code softens many previous restrictions and generalizes dress standards across the sexes. (Alpine School District)

The graphic Bonner referred to at the Oct. 11 board meeting is an image the school district has released as a guideline for the revised dress standards. The unisex graphic focuses on “parts of the body that can’t be shown” for both genders.

The revised policy also requires students to “avoid extremes” and to not wear clothing that “is not consistent to generally accepted community standards.” 

The proposed revision originally included grooming and hygiene standards, but were eliminated from the final revision due to concerns that it could isolate homeless students or those living in poverty. 

“I would just prefer that we strike personal cleanliness,” board member Julie King said. “I’m concerned that it could target students living in poverty.”

She then said no principals chose hygiene or cleanliness as something they thought was a concern in the pre-revision survey. 

The board also mentioned cultural differences as a reason behind eliminating the clause. 

As the new dress code takes effect throughout the district’s many schools, the district encourages parents to take proper responsibility to ensure students abide by the revised dress standards. 

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