Schools throughout PGCPS prove to be sexist in dress code policies


Imagine your teacher or principal saying to you and your male peers, “ Those shorts are too short”, “The shirt is too tight and it’s unacceptable”, “ He is a distraction to girls,” etc how would you feel? Well that is the reality for most if not all female students.  “That’s so inappropriate”, “She is just a distraction for boys”, “That skirt is too short”, “Her shoulders, how dare she show her shoulders!?” All of these are common phrases that are told to girls throughout Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) if not the whole school system globally. 

“It was in seventh grade in class, I wore a dress that didn’t show much , below my knees and he[the teacher] said my shoulders were showing too much,” said sophomore Rayanna Morris. “It was unfair because boys were wearing tuxedos and they weren’t fully buttoned up but my shoulders were the issue and not their chests.”

Similar to Morris, others girls throughout the county have  have expressed that the dress code for girls are much more stricter than those of the male gender simply due to their sex ( female) .

Students are finding themselves ridiculed by other students about what they wear and have noticed that teachers are less likely to defend and protect them but when it comes to dress code it seems like it is a life or death situation.

I feel like the dress code should be reevaluated because the teachers seem to be more strict on what a student is wearing rather than the violence and discrimination that students face in school everyday!”

— Isha Sesay, Class of 2023 President

Sesay continued, explaining that “rather than telling a student to take a scarf off of their head, [teachers and administration should] address the students [who] are bullying Muslim students for wearing scarves due to religious purposes. The clothing that you wear shouldn’t take away from our education.” 

The argument that the dress code has been deemed more important than the education of girls has become common with students that disagree with the strictness of the dress code.

The dress code applies at all times in the building, even  in after school programs such as sports.

While I was playing Volleyball I witnessed sexism at its finest [during the fall season],” Morris said. “When females changed for practice they wouldn’t be permitted to go elsewhere in the school building because it would be considered a violation and inappropriate.”

Morris explained that football players were permitted to walk around in tank-tops and shorts unscathed and not reprimanded by coaches or other authority figures.

Parkdale athletes, including sophomore Rayanna Morris, have seen sexism in how they are viewed in their uniforms and practice attire.

She adds, “They force females to cover up their shoulders consistently, but when they see a male showing shoulders everyone decides to mind their business. They see a female wearing shorts and it’s automatically a violation even when it’s for a sport they play, but a man in shorts is completely fine.”

PGCPS  dress code is widely vague, and each school interprets those rules/code in various ways.  In Charles Carroll Middle School, skirts are simply not an option unless it’s for religious or medical purposes. The question for some students is why are primary school girls permitted to wear skirts but middle and secondary school girls are prohibited from doing such? The fact that the dress code is differentiated by the terminologies “female” and “male” and female students are being restricted to numerous clothes while males are allowed to carry on showcases the sexism that exists in the school system. 

The strictness and harsh enforcement of the dress codes has led to some conflict in the classroom with female students. Students are sent out of class and even suspended for “breaking” the dress code rules.

I believe the extent in which administrators are taking the dress code should be changed,” said Sesay. 

When the girls begin to see the unfair treatment, it becomes a bigger issue than just the dress code.

I believe gender should not be a demographic,” said Morris. “I feel like it’s divided after looking at the dress code. There are certain expectations for each gender and I don’t think it should be sexist. It has gender inequality written all over it.”