In stark contrast to many schools across the country, Brazosport Independent School District in Texas is actually easing up on its dress code this school year, allowing seventh through 12th-grade males to sport facial hair, earrings and hair past their shoulders, and both genders to display visible tattoos, provided they comply with the dress code.
According to KTRK-TV, district superintendent Dr. Karin Holacka said the new policy isn’t about leniency, but eliminating distractions that have contributed to students in violation being temporarily removed from class in the past.
"Our goal is not to create a dress code for the purpose of free expression or the reflection individual values," Holacka told the station. "Our purpose is to create a dress code that lists those things that truly distract from the learning because we want to maintain our focus on educating our students."
Examiner.com reports that there will be some restrictions on tattoos, including no gang-affiliated symbols or offensive images or words.
Parents and students interviewed by KTRK-TV said they had no issue with facial hair or earrings being allowed, but believed tattoos were pushing the limit.
"I think it's too lenient. I'm old school, but I think we are losing a bit of control of the youth," parent Jimmy Palat said.
By comparison, Stuyvesant High School in New York City invoked the wrath of its students last year when the school implemented a strict dress code that, among other things, banned the exposure of midriffs, visible underwear, shoulders and lower backs.
Then-principal Stanley Teitel told a reporter from the school newspaper the dress code was put in place because students were wearing inappropriate clothing to school the previous fall.
“The bottom line is, some things are a distraction," Teitel said. "And we don’t need to distract students from what is supposed to be going on here, which is learning.”
Students responded in June by organizing a “Slutty Wednesday” protest in lower Manhattan, during which they paraded around in revealing clothing and distributed flyers that read, “Redress the Dress Code.”
Last week, nearly 100 Canton High School students were suspended on their first day of school for wearing gang-related colors that were in violation of the dress code. The policy is reportedly intended to prevent bullying, competition and gang clashes.