JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Is the dress code at Duval County schools discriminatory? It's a question some members of the county parent-teacher association are asking, after they say the current code may leave students of certain genders, races and religions feeling targeted.
The PTA is now fighting to change the dress code and discussed the proposal at its meeting Tuesday morning.
Some students are also calling the dress code unfair. Kennedy Murphy, a DCPS student, organized a past protest against the code.
“I would say it gives an educational disadvantage to the woman in school. And can take their focus away from things such as test cause they’re to busy worrying about small things such as whether their shoulders are showing," Murphy said.
The dress code--laid out on the school district's website -- includes common sense things; now through clothes and students must wear shoes.
But there are also rules against headwear, a definition broad enough to include hijabs. Other rules focus specifically on clothes critics say on apply to females.
“Allowing shorts in schools and tank tops and head scarfs are three of the main things I would like to see," Murphy said.
Members of the Duval County Council parent-teacher association worry the language leads to subjective enforcement, causes uncertainty among students and parents, and unnecessarily takes time away from teachers' and administrators' duties.
The PTA closed the dress code debate to the media, but some concerns were discussed during a general meeting held Tuesday.
“Whereas this language has been applied in most significantly certain specific dress code provisions applied to clothing and accessories predominantly worn by students of certain genders races and religions, impacting these students differently and inequitably," Melissa Daniel, the advocacy & legislation member of the Duval County Council PTA.
They plan to petition school officials to change the wording during an upcoming review of the dress code review. That process starts in late March and goes through May.
Full resolution adopted by the DCCPTA can be found below;
Whereas the Duval County public school code of Student Conduct general code of appearance hereinafter, referred to as the dress code, contains subjective language that lends itself to different interpretations. Example distracting, form, fitting overly tight etc.
Whereas the subjective language and interpretation constitutes the nonspecific grounds for discipline and causes uncertainty among students, parents and DCPS employees and policy application.
Whereas this objective language and interpretation can lead to subjective enforcement wherein violations are enforced unequally across students of varying body types gender, race and religion.
Whereas this language has been applied in most significantly certain specific dress code provisions applied to clothing and accessories predominantly worn by students of certain genders races and religions, impacting these students different Lee and inequitably.
Whereas the enforcement of the dress code can unnecessarily take time and attention away from teachers and administrators duties and from students classroom education, whereas the foregoing conditions negatively impact students mental and physical health and well being in learning environment.
Whereas the Duval County Council of PTA is and its associated local units in accordance with state and federal law and the US Department of Education and US Department of Justice position, support prohibiting discrimination in dress code on the basis of race, religion and gender.
Whereas the Duval County Council a PTA and its associated local units pursuant to the Florida State PTA PTA mission statement, advocate for the mental and physical health and well being of students.
Whereas the Duval County Council of PTA and its associated local units advocate for all students in the district and had to have a fair and equitable education in a physically and mentally safe and orderly learning environment therefore, be it resolved that the Duval County Council of PTA requests the DCPs skeezy dress code be updated to promote the physical and mental health and well being of its students in their learning environment free of bias, including but not limited to permit head coverings, permit tank tops. Remove language use to effectively ban shorts and leggings without oversized coverings, namely form fitting overly tight, disruptive or distractive. Remove subjective language and prohibitions on clothing and accessory that accessories associated predominantly certain gender Religious religions racist and racial stereotypes including but not limited for fitting overly tight, distracting, a neat and clean, be it further resolved that the PTA students and other stakeholders be included in the review discussion and updating of the dress code.