Violating the Code: Students and School Dress Codes



UPDATED 9/23/20

A student in England was forced to sit in a room by himself for the entire school day, simply because of the way he likes to cut his hair.

According to the Daily Mail, 14-year-old Kieran London was placed in isolation at Raynes Park High School in London, England, after a teacher became offended by his unique haircut.

His mother, Jenni London, kept Kieran home from school for two days earlier this week after he told her about the isolation.

“He’s always had the same haircut but now they have just suddenly decided it’s too short and they have put him in isolation, in a little booth on his own,” said Jenni London.

In addition to having the same haircut for several years, Kieran’s hairstyle was fairly mild compared to some other outrageous hair trends. The sides of his head are shaved-down just a bit, while the top of his scalp is combed over to one side.

Besides the principle of defending her son’s haircut, Jenni London is also upset by the way the school handled his punishment. By placing him in isolation, London believes that it prevents her son from learning as quickly as the other kids.

“It’s depriving him of his basic human rights. He goes to school for an education, which I would say means being taught by a teacher, not sitting alone with a worksheet,” Jenni London said.

About 25% of people change their hairstyle to “reinvent” themselves, and teenagers are constantly playing around with different hairstyles to find one that suits them best. In the U.S., even elementary school children are typically given some freedom to express themselves through style.

However, this was not the case when seven-year-old Rashaad Hunter was suspended from his Alabama school for arriving with a part in his hair, according to Vibe. Much like Jenni London, Hunter’s mother was furious with the school for jeopardizing her son’s education because of a haircut.

As for Jenni and Kieran London, Raynes Park High School headteacher Kirsten Heard responded to their complaint by saying that Kieran’s haircut does not reflect the dress code and values of the private institution.

“We consider that a severe haircut, where the scalp is visible, is not in line with our Uniform Policy and we have kindly requested that our students have a longer version of this current style,” said Heard.

“We see the students as ambassadors of our school and they are expected to dress and behave in a way that reflects the high standards we seek to achieve,” Heard added.

But trips to the hair salon are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to school dress code violations.

If this it’s strange to suspend boys because of hairstyles, then you’ll never believe what some young women have done to upset school officials. Two young women from Canada were suspended for protesting their school’s ban on bra straps showing. Another student from Maine had to retake her school photo because of the off the shoulder sweater she was wearing was against school policy. And in South Carolina, the principal told students that they couldn’t wear leggings unless they were a size 1 or 0.

Young women are often the targets of sexist school dress codes that prioritize a distraction-free environment for boys rather than a comfortable environment for everyone. What’s worse is when female students are sent home or forced to change clothes because they are making male teachers uncomfortable. Furthermore, students who are transgender or non-binary are often targeted as well and forced to conform to rules that make unfortable.

Middle and High school girls are often told that collarbones, shoulders, arms, and tight clothes are distracting and are often shamed publicly by being pulled out class. Or worse, punished with both in and out of school suspicions and detention. It’s often worse for plus size students or girls with larger busts whose clothes naturally fit a little tighter. The education of young women is often compromised by the clothing they wear as priority is given to boys’ learning.

So when you’re sending your kids off to school, make sure you read the dress code thoroughly. Parents’ voices are often the one’s schools will listen to so make sure your kids aren’t being unfairly targeted because of their style choices. Whether it’s Billy’s hair or Sally’s shoulders, the way you present yourself should never affect your education.

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