Sporting a blue polo shirt and khaki shorts, Ira Latham looked like any other dad at a recent school board meeting in Gilbert, Arizona.
But suddenly, as if triggered by strip-tease music that only he could hear, Latham approached the podium to speak, ripped off his shirt, and stepped out of his shorts.
His Audience Felt Uncomfortable
He wasn’t left n*de but was exposed enough for the all-female Higley Unified School District board to be left feeling visibly uncomfortable.
The snug spaghetti strap crop top he wore wasn’t flattering, and the jean cutoff short-shorts revealed his thighs.
Taking a Stand for Dress Code Reform
But this father of four was willing to momentarily sacrifice his dignity for a particular principle.
Latham was advocating against a new lax school district dress code policy.
For at least 20 years, the school district’s policy prohibited students from wearing clothing that exposed their chest, mid-riff, or abdomen.
Under The New Policy, His Outfit Is Appropriate
The proposed policy would now only prohibit clothing that exposes underwear.
“Under the proposed policy, this would be appropriate in a classroom,” Latham told the board members before shedding his shirt and shorts, according to KPHO/Gray News.
Board Asserts Parents’ Responsibility
However, despite Latham’s bold attempt to protest the new proposal, the board approved it on a 3-2 vote.
“As a board, we voted to ultimately let parents and families decide what is appropriate for them,” board president Tiffany Shultz told the news outlet.
“It is the parents and family’s choice, and as long as it doesn’t disrupt the school day, it would be a non-issue.”
Some are Still Opposed To The Idea
This Arizona district isn’t alone in recently experiencing controversy around its clothing policy.
Across the nation, over the past five years, public schools’ guidance around clothing has increasingly come under fire from both liberals and conservatives.
Keeping The Balance
Conservatives think schools need to ban clothing that is too revealing.
Liberals, on the other hand, point to studies showing that dress codes disproportionately affect girls, Black, Hispanic, and LGBTQ students.
As an example, a General Accounting Office analysis found that 90% of public school dress codes banned specific types of clothing for girls, while only 69% banned specific items typically worn by boys.
Do Dress Codes Do More Harm Than Good?
Female students have complained that banning particular types of clothing for being ‘too revealing’ often sexualizes students at too young an age.
“A lot of times these codes, while they’re supposed to be designed to keep students safe and to be able to engage in learning, do more harm than good, and are not inclusive of all identities,” Courtney Mauldin, an assistant professor of educational leadership at Syracuse University, told Education Week.
A Call For Equitable and Inclusive Policies
The October 2022 GAO analysis recommended that the U.S. Department of Education provide resources to help school districts “design equitable dress codes to promote a supportive and inclusive learning environment.”
The National Center for Education Statistics found that in the 2019-2020 school year, 44% of U.S. schools enforced a strict clothing policy, while 19% required uniforms.
Is There Still a Place for Modesty in School?
Still, there are millions of parents like Ira Latham who think today’s teens wear clothing that is far too provocative and distracting for school.
And it’s not only students whose attire has provoked controversy.
Increasingly, parents are complaining about the clothing worn by teachers and even other parents during school pick-up.
Other Parents Follow Suit
In March, Michael Guglielmo, the father of a student in Concord, New Hampshire, attended a school board meeting dressed as Julius Caesar to protest a male teacher dressing in female clothing.
By allowing this, the school district was “promoting gender confusion.”
“I am Caesar—Julius Caesar of Rome, the emperor. I am also a female,” Guglielmo stated. “Does anybody here believe that? That I am Julius Caesar? Does anybody believe that? No, of course not. It’s ridiculous.”
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This article was produced by TPR Teaching. Source.
Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.