Changing the Code: Dress Code Changes Allow Students to Have More Freedom of Expression

By: Jenna Kreh

Staff Writer

New this year at Hammond, the dress code has been altered to require only what many would call the bare minimum, allowing students to wear almost anything they would like. Hats and hoods are now permitted, as well as any size straps on shirts and tank tops (spaghetti straps) or no straps at all (sleeveless). This new dress code is beneficial to students, as it allows for a more personal self expression and less concerns for both students and staff as to what is acceptable to be worn in the school environment.

The new dress code asks only that students wear a shirt, pants, and shoes that cover their chest, midriff, pelvic/groin area, and buttocks. This change gives students much more freedom, and it takes the pressure off of students to think about whether their outfit is school-approved. It also allows the schools’ staff to focus on other matters in the school, since less students will need to be sent home or spoken to about their clothing.

Additionally, a main change this dress code allows for is that students will now be allowed to wear hats and hoods in the building. Sophomore Leah Sheinhorn said “I like that now I can wear my hood because lets me be in my own little concealed bubble, and it makes me feel more comfortable in the school environment.” 

This is important, because students need to be in an environment they are comfortable in so that they can pay attention and learn. It is especially beneficial for students to have confirmation that they are allowed to wear hats, hoods, and other headwear during special times such as spirit week. Sometimes teachers make exceptions for these days, but some have previously required that even spirit-based clothing or headwear must be removed during class. With this new rule, students no longer have to worry about their fun, spirited outfits. They now have assurance that they are all school-approved.

Another big change in the new code is that students can wear strapless or spaghetti strapped shirts to school, when previously these shirts were not allowed. Junior Allison Haines is grateful for this rule. “Last year I wore a tube top to school, but we weren’t allowed to show our shoulders so I had to wear a cardigan,” Allison said. “But now, I can freely wear a tube top and not worry about showing my shoulders.” This rule is beneficial because exposing shoulders is not inappropriate or immodest, and it allows students to wear a wider variety of clothing that they think is comfortable and fits their needs.

Despite these benefits, the new dress code has been considered by some to be a step back from the previous rules. For example, hats and hoods were not permitted in previous codes so that students could be easily identified, making the school safer. Despite being in favor of the new dress code, Leah agreed with this concern, saying that “[In a hat or hood] someone could just walk in [to the school], that doesn’t go here.” 

Because students can now wear headwear, it is an understandable concern that their faces might be covered, making them less visible to administration. However, the new dress code also includes a section stating that these items are only allowed to be worn “so long as the student’s face is visible and wearable technology is visible to ensure it is not interfering with instruction and student safety.” These regulations protect the administration’s right to identify students, while also protecting the students’ rights to express themselves.

The new dress code that has been introduced into Howard County policy has been met with positive comments and feedback from numerous students at Hammond, and it is likely that other schools are receiving the same responses. The code is careful to still protect students’ safety, while also giving them more freedom to express themselves and be comfortable in their school.

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