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Katherine Tran Professor Novak English 301 16 September 2013 Dress Codes Hey teens, what are you

going to wear to school today? Heres a scenario to think about: A girl goes to school and gets kicked out or even suspended. The reason to this is because she is wearing a bracelet with the words boobies on it. Is this right or is this wrong? Growing up as a teenager in junior high as well as high school, I was able to express myself through my style and choice of clothing to present myself. However, there was always a restriction to what I wore because of the school dress code and that always got in the way of choosing clothes. Up until today, the dress codes are still the same, meaning strict and specific on what you can or cannot wear. Questions have been raised about specific fashion choices resulting in restricting these expressive styles in schools across the country. Ruthann Robson argues that schools should aim their focus towards educating students and less on enforcing dress code rules that result in students being kicked out of school for that reason. In her New York Times op-ed School dress codes: Miniskirt madness, Robson discusses the strictness of dress codes that is effecting students and their learning opportunities. Throughout her op-ed, she uses rhetorical devices to support her statement and claims. In her op-ed, Robson supports her argument by using a pathical approach and talks about not focusing on strict dress codes but aim the focus more towards education instead of kicking students out because of their unapproved attire. One way that she does this is by getting into her audiences emotion such as when she mentions The wrong choice could get you kicked out of

class or suspended; and if you want to fight for your right to a hoodie or a short skirt, you and your parents may have to file suit and head for court. She makes a good point because she emphasizes the downfalls that could occur as a result of one little thing such as wearing something inappropriate to school. To think about it, it would be very unreasonable to be kicked out of school for a reason that does not have anything to do with education. Not only does Robson make use of her claim by the way of pathos but she also uses ethical appeals. Instead of supporting her statements through ways of pathical appeals, Robson uses her career in society to try to validate her claims. One of her sources of credibility comes from her profession as a law professor. Adding to her credibility level, she also published a book on a book on adequate dress attire. As mentioned at the bottom of the op-ed, she is a law professor at New York's City University School of Law. From this profession, she is trying to tell us that she knows a lot about the law and is very well educated. Not only does that profession add to her credibility but the fact that she is the author of "Dressing Constitutionally is another plus to having her audience believe her statements. Robson also makes a great use of logos in her op-ed by presenting her audience through reasoning. She talks about the purposes of dress codes and why they are so important. Such evidence can be found when she mentions one of the reasons to having dress codes is to enforce a good behavior for the future. She makes a good point when she stated school officials like to tout the rules as preparation for employment. Although dress codes do help students prepare and teach them how to dress in the future for their career, it has nothing to do with school. To add to that, they would know what is appropriate to wear to work and what not to wear. How they chose to dress to school is simply one of the only ways they can be expressing themselves.

Although it is important to keep dress codes strict and appropriate for a learning environment, Robson also makes a good claim that kicking students out of school or even suspending them would do nothing but interfere with their learning opportunities. She lists some example of fashion choices that schools across the country have recently tried to ban such as short miniskirts or shorts, sagging pants, sweat pants, frayed jeans and even breast-cancer-awareness bracelet featuring the word "boobies". If a student were to be wearing the wrong choice of clothing such as one of the example that she lists, they could get kicked out of class or suspended. That is just very unreasonable because if that student or the parents of the students want to fight for the right to wear whatever they are wearing that caused them trouble, they may have to file suit and head for court to defend their rights. One thing that Robson is very good at throughout her op-ed is her style of presenting her claims and supporting it with her facts. She even lists some views that would go against her standpoint and argues her point against it. This can be shown when she lists the opposing view on her own by stating that dress codes may seek to foster an educational environment. However, she counters that fact and supports her claim by saying that their very existence can divert attention from substantive learning by fetishizing the number of inches between the hem of a skirt and the top of a knee. This helps her audience side with her because she also goes against what shes saying and sees it from different view instead of presenting one single viewpoint. Another example is when she talks about dressing up for school as a way of being expressive, however, in school authorities point of view, "mere style" conveys a message of disrespect, sexuality, rebellion or even fashionableness. Not only that but she also sees the view in which dress codes may seek to foster an educational environment. One more important example that is

against her opinion that she provides and agrees with is the common-sense provisions such as gang color restrictions which will make some kids at schools feel safer. Robson is able to persuade her audience through some final last words at the end of her op-ed. After presenting her view, she ends with a statement for her intended audience to think about. She states one possible solution to this problem and that is to exert our energies toward preparing our kids to become the independent thinkers necessary for a democracy rather than the subjects of seemingly arbitrary rules. This phrase gets into his audiences head and makes a lasting effect on them because students education is one important and crucial factor in their life.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/commentary/la-oe-robson-dress-codes-school20130905,0,1447566.story

School dress codes: Miniskirt madness


School districts should focus more on educating students and less on enforcing seemingly arbitrary dress rules.

Students are seen leaving Granada Hills High School. (Los Angeles Times / September 9, 2002)

By Ruthann Robson
September 5, 2013

Hey kids, what are you going to wear to school today? A miniskirt? How short? "Sagging" pants: Is that kosher? What about a do-rag? Fishnet tights? Or hoodies, tattoos, sweat pants, frayed jeans, an Afro puff or, if you're a boy, long locks? How about a breast-cancer-awareness bracelet featuring the word "boobies"? All of these are real examples of fashion choices that schools across the country have recently attempted to restrict. The wrong choice could get you kicked out of class or suspended; and if you want to fight for your right to a hoodie or a short skirt, you and your parents may have to file suit and head for court. Your defense would probably be the 1st Amendment, and the first hurdle would be proving that your desired dress is "expressive." But courts often decline to find that "mere style" conveys a message, a rather anomalous conclusion given that school dress codes seem predicated on prohibiting styles precisely because they express something: disrespect, sexuality, rebellion or even fashionableness. Symbols or words on clothes are most likely to clear the speech hurdle; they will then be evaluated against the "disruption" standard articulated by the Supreme Court in the watershed case Tinker vs. Des Moines Independent Community School District. Tinker involved students wearing black armbands to protest the war in Vietnam. Borrowing from civil rights cases, the court decided for the protesters: Authorities had to show that speech materially and substantially interfered with appropriate school discipline in order to ban student speech.

Later lawsuits have had mixed results. In a flurry of cases involving representations of the Confederate flag, the courts leaned toward upholding school bans. Students promoting the Straight Alliance (and who donned shirts that proclaimed "Be Happy Not Gay") were generally more successful, although a few judges thought the message could disrupt gay students' learning. And just last month, students' "I boobies" bracelets were validated by the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals: The school in question could not ban an expression that was not "plainly lewd." Most school dress codes seek to bar only the most problematic images and words, but some schools try a total ban on images and words on any article of clothing. As it turns out, the stricter a dress code, the better its chances of survival. Claims of discrimination against a viewpoint or group by the school are much more difficult to make in such cases. For example, a few years ago the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a dress code that banned T-shirts with printed messages unless they were approved school-related slogans or logos smaller than 2 inches by 2 inches. When one student eventually chose to wear a shirt emblazoned with the text of the 1st Amendment, neither the school nor the courts approved it. School dress codes also raise questions of equality. Gender-specific guidelines for hair, jewelry and cosmetics are being tested, especially by transgender students. Bans on saggy pants or Afro puffs are applied to all students but can be seen as racially biased. Outlawing sweat pants or frayed garments might well have a disproportionate effect, depending on a family's economic status, although this argument would be more persuasive to a school board making policy than to a court applying constitutional doctrine. At their heart, school dress codes that go well beyond safety concerns and basic decency rest on the unequal relationships between adults and youth. School officials like to tout the rules as preparation for employment, but those standards are hard to pin down: Billionaire Mark Zuckerberg would be suspended at most schools with detailed dress codes. Dress codes also hearken back to a time when kings, queens and government councils routinely proscribed all manner of attire, with special attention to prohibiting people of "mean condition" from certain styles purple, for example, was reserved for royalty. But the English went even further, regulating how frilly men's collars could be or how revealing their tunics could be. Colonists brought such traditions with them to America. The Puritans prosecuted women who wore lace and Southern colonies included matters of dress in their slave codes. When we look at school rules in this context, it's clear they rely on anti-democratic principles. The Supreme Court famously opined in 1925 that the state does not have the power to "standardize" its children, but too-detailed school dress codes seek to accomplish just that. It's time for school districts to worry less about student attire. Dress codes may seek to foster an educational environment, but their very existence can divert attention from substantive learning by fetishizing the number of inches between the hem of a skirt and the top of a knee. There are some common-sense provisions. Gang color restrictions may make kids at some schools demonstrably safer, and general decency rules should apply as they do outside schools. But policing poofy hairdos or the message on a bracelet or the fabric of a child's pants isn't serving the interests of students or society. Let's exert our energies toward preparing our kids to become the independent thinkers necessary for a democracy rather than the subjects of seemingly arbitrary rules. Ruthann Robson is a law professor at New York's City University School of Law and the author of "Dressing Constitutionally."
Copyright 2013, Los Angeles Times