Category: Editorials

Dress Code: Tolerating a Subtle form of Sexism?

By Kristina Dombek
Staff Writer

Almost any student, especially female students, know the phrases, “three fingers width,” “fingertip length,” and “cover your stomach.” The purpose of dress code ranges from trying to make students feel safe to keeping a level of professionalism in the school environment.

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Isha Brockenberry holding a dress code violation t-shirt

At Hammond, the dress code is implemented in order to get students to become college and career ready, which is a goal all aspects of Hammond is geared towards. Becoming college and career ready is an important duty high school’s should be responsible for equipping students with; however, in the respect of choosing what students should wear, it is unnecessary. The safety and comfort of students is a crucial aspect of schools, but the actual, real effects of dress code create the opposite of what is desired, especially for female, LGBTQ+, or minority students. The dress code creates an environment in which students are shamed and embarrassed, those students miss class time, and it caters to an environment in which subtle forms of sexism is tolerated.

The existence of dress code in U.S. schools is growing. According to Niche, a survey showed that the number of public schools with a dress code increased by 21% from 2000 to 2013. Although it may not be as strict at Hammond, other schools’ dress codes can create humiliation outside of the classroom. According to theatlantic.com’s article, “The Sexism of School Dress Codes” by Li Zhou, the administrators at a high school in South Jordan, Utah, made their female students during a prom dance, “sit against the wall, touch their toes, and lift their arms to determine whether their outfits were appropriate.”

Although dress code may not be always be this strict, students, particularly young girls, do face these threats from their authorities. As one can imagine, this type of embarrassment can traumatize and ruin an event that should be a great high school experience.  

When a student enters a class and gets stopped for a dress code violation, depending on the severity, they must go to the office to change their clothes. I asked a student at Hammond about an experience that she has had with the dress code, and she recounted a time from elementary school. Excited about her new shorts, she was approached. While getting looked up and down by her teacher, she was asked condescendingly, “what’s wrong here?” She was told to go to the office because “[her outfit] was not acceptable.” Crying in the office, she missed about an hour of class before her mother came to pick her up. Is an eleven-year-old’s outfit more important than her own education? There must be a better way to address a child’s outfit than completely embarrasssing them and making them feel ashamed.

Expression and exploring oneself is important aspect of growing up, and school is the primary environment that children are in at least nine months of the year. School dress code now creates barriers in order for that expression to come through. Kelsey Terrasa, a sophomore at Hammond, states that she buys clothes that she feels expresses herself and her personality, but since she spends most of her time at school, she never gets to wear them. “I haven’t worn this shirt since about seventh grade, but it’s something that I feel like is fun and expresses who I am as a person, but I can’t wear it.”

According to Scott Key, Ph.D., from oureverydaylife.com’s article, “How Does a Strict Dress Code Cause Problems for Kids?” he warns, “that a dress code can actually hinder a child’s opportunity to learn about other lifestyles, cultures and styles. This can make your child less prepared for a future work place, where he will need to adapt to different clothing expressions and find a balance between blending in and expressing his individuality.”

In college, dress code is much less prevalent; therefore, learning to behave in an appropriate manner without the implementation of dress code is a way to prepare for college, and that preparation is an important duty that high schools should be accountable for.

The majority of the blow of dress code is directed at girls and their clothing. There are clothes that do abide by the dress code, but there are specific times and situations where following all of the dress code rules seems ridiculous. Not only should students be able to choose their clothes because of their style and expression, but to stay comfortable. The dress code should not be something girls need to stress over because they cannot find anything to wear that will not make them so uncomfortably hot. Majority of men’s fashion in the summer has shorts that go down to about the knee, fitting the dress code, but majority of women’s fashion are all shorts that do not abide by the finger tip length. How is it that boys get to pick out their outfits everyday and only worry about “pulling their pants up,” but girls must overthink if breaking the rule would be worth it to just stay comfortable? There are sexist rules made by other schools where the dress code should be put into practice because “dressing inappropriately will distract the other students, primarily boys,” which is an outrageous statement in itself.

Here at Hammond, those remarks are not thrown in our face, but they are still real comments made that promote this idea that a boy’s education is more important than a girl’s right to feel comfortable in her own skin. Whether it is a young girl or a woman, they should not have to feel ashamed of their skin. “Sweetie,” and “honey,” are all condescending nicknames girls get called before receiving the ultimate comment of “you should cover up.” Schools should maintain levels of professionalism; however, why is my skin an issue? Why are my shoulders so taboo that no one should be able to see them? If schools wanted truly wanted to achieve professionalism, sweatpants, sweatshirts, or any type of athletic wear would not be seen as acceptable.

The dress code should be transformed so that young girls should not feel attacked. Fairhaven Middle School created a gender-neutral transformation to the dress code. The policy now uses language such as “Clothing will cover torso, midriff and backside.” With still some guidelines to how students should dress, the dress code can still be in effect, but with different outcomes. Students should be able to handle themselves maturely; some students are even legally adults. Therefore, still having rules to dress without limiting so much of a someone’s wardrobe will create a more positive, and mature environment. Girls will have confidence and freedom to express themselves which translates into their ability to get their education, go to interviews confidently, and have a “good job and a great life.” Hammond’s motto “where people are important,” should be seen in all situations, genders, backgrounds, and sexualities. Breaking down the barriers in achieving a more equal environment for the genders should not be overlooked. The idea that a woman’s education is just as imperative as a man’s should not be a radical idea; it is a fact.

 

Off Message – The Mishaps of Trump’s “Alternative Facts”

By Amanda Graves
Staff Writer

In recent weeks, Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway has been “off message.” But Conway’s media presence is just the first casualty in Trump’s war on the media. From the made-up Bowling Green Massacre, to “alternative facts,” to promoting Ivanka Trump’s clothing line, Conway’s outlandish statements have caused the White House to seemingly ban her from appearing on the news.

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Transgender Students: Playing a Sport of their Choice

By Alexis Kujawa
Staff Writer

Being part of the LGBT community is hard enough to be in, with being discriminated against through words and actions of others. If you are transgender or part of the community, it is very hard to apply for jobs or apply for college.

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The official flag of the transgender community. Credit: Google Images

There is much behind being transgender. Each person is born with an either XX or XY chromosomes. That is your determined sex. What most people don’t know, is that gender and sex are two different things. Sex is determined by the chromosomes and DNA your parents gave you. Gender is being either male or female. Even though scientists have not been able to find an exact cause of being transgender, their studies have been able to show that part of it is possibly genetics and part of being in the womb. (WebMd)

There is much to know about being transgender, which is a big cause of why transgender people are being discriminated against. This can cause distress, anxiety, and depression. Some people also believe that the mismatch between the internal sense of gender and the body’s physical sex is a mental illness, but it is not. (WebMd)

In order to be transgender, a person would have to go through symptoms for least six months. Some of the symptoms for kids are: having lots of friends of the opposite gender, telling people they are the opposite gender even though they have body parts of the opposite gender, and believing that they will grow up to be the opposite gender. (WebMd)

Something very hard for people in the transgender community is being able to play the sport that they want. According to TransAthlete.com, certain high school sports will not accept people who are transgender without certain documents (depending on the state), in the particular sport the person wants to play. Only 15 states, including Maryland, allow transgender individuals play the sport of their choosing without any verification.

Howard County is partners with Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbian and Gays (PFLAG), which helps educate others on what it is like being part of the LGBT community. This helps students who go to Howard County schools be more included in their school community.

Because high school sports and activities are an important aspect of high school, being able to choose the club/sport of their choosing is very important to the person. When asked if she would be comfortable about a transgender person trying out for the Hammond basketball team, Fatima Shaikh, a freshman, said “Yeah, I would be comfortable. I wouldn’t mind. Well, mainly because it doesn’t matter how they identify and that shouldn’t matter.”

Sydney Phillips, a junior varsity field hockey midfielder, said of the topic, “..There are actually people into it, there are people who go for it and then there are those people who say they are but they actually aren’t, but if you go for it, then yeah.

From a coach’s perspective, Coach Reid, coach for the Varsity Girls’ basketball team and Freshman volleyball, said “I really don’t have a specific opinion. But looking statistically at the power and the strength of a male compared to a female, I do know that from teaching. There are differences in the muscular structures and the amount of strength a male has as opposed to a female. So I think that won’t be necessarily fair. However, you also have other things that would be considered as far as chemicals and balance of that nature…so I think there’s a lot to be studied before that happens.”

People at Hammond seem opening and accepting if anyone would want to join their sports team of their choosing, which helps transgenders feel more accepted.

 

Hammond Discusses School Improvements

By: Laura vanHasselt
Staff Writer

Hammond High School’s signage has officially entered the 21st century with a new sign that celebrates the digital age.  Hammond High School has recently replaced their old letter marquee with a brand new electronic sign. Hammond was the last school in Howard County to install an electronic sign, and it definitely improved the appearance of the outside of the building. However, there are still a lot of improvements to go when it comes to the inside of the building, and many of Hammond’s students agree. As Ms. Leonard would say, “our students are the best, so they deserve the best.”

The spirited students love showing support for each other during sports games and Spirit Week; however, there is little love for the crowded hallways in between class periods. Caroleen Anderson, a senior, states “I feel like if teachers expect us to get to their class in five minutes they need to take into consideration the size of the hallways.”

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Hammond’s upgrades its image with a new sign

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Who Won the 2016 Presidential Debate?

This Tuesday, Hofstra University in New York hosted the first of three presidential debates between Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump.  Lester Holt moderated the exchange, and the debate focused on America’s Direction, Achieving Prosperity, and Securing America, based on topics dictated by Holt and the Commission on Presidential Debates.

The debate’s format was based around dividing these topics up into six segments of 15 minutes each.  Holt began each section with a general question for both candidates, then allowed them to speak for two minutes each before opening the floor for rebuttals and follow-up questions to provoke a deeper discussion and dialogue.

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Does Music Affect the Way We Act?

By Olu Adebiyi

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Junior Nicolette Brookman listening to music on her iPod.

Regardless of one’s taste in music, whether it’s Chief Keef, Katy Perry, Green Day, or Blake Shelton, music is a part of our lives, and it contributes to our daily behavior. People may not attribute the lyrics they hear to be their inspiration to live life like YOLO, and they may not suspect that their least favorite song makes them actually dislike Fridays.

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The Debate for School Start Times

By Jena Borlik & Mikayla Prettyman

All Howard County Schools open at 7:25 every morning. Many Howard County students struggle with waking up this early five times a week for a whole school year. There has been much debate as to whether or not the start time of our schools should be set to a later time with the purpose to give students more time to get more sleep. There are many pros and cons to a later school start time and, according to Hammond High students, the pros outweigh the cons.

“In the mornings, I’m really tired and I don’t usually like learning that early in the day,” says sophomore Jack Buzard. Jack is very involved in our school’s theater program. He participates in chamber choir, the fall play, the spring musical, and our Dramastics improv team. Even with his after school rehearsals, he still says that he would like to sleep in later, knowing that his rehearsals would be ran later in the day.

Senior Maddie Cheney wakes up at 5:50 every morning to head to work before school.  “I wish school started later so that I would get more time to sleep,” she explains to The Bear Press. Laura van Hasselt, a sophomore, is more concerned about her lack of sleep and how it affects her grades. She says, “I have an extremely difficult class first period. I compare my test scores with people who have the same class later in the day and I seem to do much worse than them.” Laura worries about the effects of the typical lack of sleep of High School students, “Usually throughout my day, I just feel like I really want to go home and I don’t that’s something that students should feel.” Laura is a competitive equestrian outside of school and her practices also sometimes run into the time she has to do homework after school.

Taylor Smith, another Hammond sophomore, is involved in lacrosse and choir and has the same type of problems as van Hasselt. “In first period, I’m usually falling asleep or staring into space,” she says. She believes that she and her fellow students are alike in their struggles,“I think I’m like most people because most people are just exhausted during the school day.” There seems to be a common theme among the opinions of Hammond students in that they all seem to relate their mood and how much sleep they get. “If I’m not well rested, I’m miserable for most of the day,” says Taylor.

Although plenty of Hammond students feel the delayed start time would be beneficial, some feel it would only cause problems. “That’s a terrible idea because then you have no time at the end of the day and if you play any sports your practices and your games will end really late,” says Cheyenne Monthé, sophomore at Hammond High School. A lot of students feel this time change would really interfere with after school activities such as sports and theater. “It would give me less time to do anything,” says Monthé.

Rhea Bradley, a sophomore at Hammond High School, is involved in several after school activities such as Dramastics and Marching Band. She also believes this could cause problems saying that school opening later may affect her outside of school activities and then she may subsequently not have enough time for homework.

Will students actually take advantage of the later start time? Mr. Reagle, boys lacrosse and girls soccer coach, does not buy it. “Talk to any kid, if you know you’re having a two hour delay are you going to bed at ten? No, you’re probably staying up later,” says Reagle, “you’re not getting more sleep, you’re just changing your sleep pattern.”

Reagle also believes that it would cause outside problems that would put students in danger, “That becomes a safety issue for the kids, so if you usually walk to school, now you’re walking home at seven o’clock, maybe walking home through rush hour…there are a lot more safety hazards leaving at seven then leaving at three.”