What Do You Say When Your School Board Tells You Not To Be Yourself?
In late January, the Buchanan High School took a major step backward (like, to the 1950’s) when the Unified School District trustees voted to uphold the California high school’s archaic dress code, which prohibits male students from having long hair and piercings. Wait, seriously? I’m picturing a panel of old white dudes sitting around saying “Don’t let those youths run around like dirty hippies!”
— Joe Ybarra (@JoeYbarraTV) January 28, 2016
Looks like we may not be too far off. On the surface, something as silly as a dress code doesn’t seem super important when there are issues like institutional racism and a mass shooting epidemic plaguing our country. But when you consider that dress is one of the biggest outward representations of gender and that there’s a huge push to create a culture in this country that’s inviting and inclusive for non-cisgender people, something as simple as a dress code becomes a MAJOR social issue. To protest this sexist decision, the students decided to cross-dress for a day: girls dressed like boys and the boys glammed up in dresses and skirts. What started out as a simple act of defiance soon grew into a social statement with national attention and a hole bunch of legal implications.
Keep reading to see how these students stood up for what they believed in and the amazing reaction of the public.
The Looks Were Honestly Very Stylish
Standing up for what you believe in comes in all sizes and is ALWAYS in season. The students of Buchanan HS had some words for their school board. “The reason we switched gender norms for the day was to make the statement that what we wear does not define us as students,” said senior Emma Sledd. “What hurts your district’s image more,” student Nicholas Crespin mused on Twitter, “A kid with piercings or a board who doesn’t believe gender equality is a valid idea to be considered?”
The Students Got The Attention Of The ACLU
For those of you who don’t know, the ACLU is the American Civil Liberties Union, a national organization that advocates for individual rights through legal action, lobbying for change in legislation, and public education programs. Abré Conner, an attorney for ACLU spoke on the Buchanan High School case. “We were shocked that [the school board] decided not to comply with the law. At this point, we haven’t ruled out any potential strategies including a lawsuit, and we are currently evaluating our next steps.”