Around the country, there has been a growing uproar
around schools banning leggings and it arrived in Chicago this week
as Evanston's Haven Middle School plans to review their dress code
later this month. After a fellow writer
addressed the debate here, I felt compelled to respond to
Why are parents angry? They say that banning this type of
attire because it's "distracting to boys" is misogynistic and
Let's step back: Students try out different attire as one
of the ways they learn to express themselves. I'm no stranger to
that. As someone who floated amongst various groups in high school,
I clearly recall experiments where I'd have my "preppy" sweater,
rolled khakis and Bass slip-ons one day, then dress in Dr. Martens
and a Trent Reznor t-shirt with a thermal underneath the next. It
was fascinating and amusing seeing how people responded to
different personas, and testing if they even noticed at
However, I also remember getting stopped in the hallway,
desperately trying to make my arms shorter to ensure my skirt
reached down to my fingertips. Boys wearing "Big Johnson" t-shirts
had to turn them inside out for the day and caps were stashed in
So this uproar about how we're sending the wrong messages
to kids about sex and respect? I don't buy it.
Some schools are clearly botching their messaging on the
topic, which should absolutely be called out and corrected. It
isn't about telling girls that their clothing is what makes boys
think about sex, or that it's okay for boys to wear snug pants but
that girls cannot.
However, we can promote kids respecting themselves, and
understanding that in certain venues, there is a standard of attire
required. They will have plenty of time in college to wander to the
grocery store in their flannel PJ's and wear midriff shirts to
When things go badly in a school, whether bullying,
suicide, violence or any myriad of problems are missed, the
teachers and administration are blamed for not addressing the
And yet, here we are: Schools try to enforce the smallest
level of decorum and respect, and parents jump in to block
My question for parents is this: Which way do you want
Tracy Jensen, aka ChiMomWriter, is a writer, marketer, mother, fundraiser, marathoner, and music lover. She can be found at night ignoring the dishes and playing on Twitter.
See more of Tracy's stories here.
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