Laura Varlas

That's Code for Discrimination

Last week, "dressing like a girl" got Marion County high school junior Justin Reynolds sent home from school, reports TampaBay.com's Gradebook blog. The Florida school district's dress code policy requires that students dress "in keeping with their gender."

Reynolds, whose transgression involved some high-heel boots, a necklace, earrings, mascara, and eyeliner, argues that his outfit was not overdramatic and was merely an expression of himself. His school counters that he violated dress code and that his clothing was potentially disruptive.

Gradebook offers some food for thought on this issue: if a student dresses tastefully, what difference does it make if he or she has on a certain type of clothing? I'd add to that the article mentions Reynolds identifies as gay, so what sort of values do schools support when they enact policies that marginalize or penalize different expressions of gender?

For a really great read on teaching in a way that is inclusive of the LGBTQ community, check out the March 2009 English Journal magazine by the National Council of Teachers of English, on the theme "Sexual Identity and Gender Variance".  In particular, slam poet George David Miller's piece, "You Brought This on Yourself", powerfully addresses how parents of LGBTQ youth struggle with apathetic administrator attitudes toward homophobia in the school house.

Do you think Marion County's dress code policy contradicts the safe and supported tenets of a whole child education?

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