Tyscen Keiaho and Katherine Guerrero, interviewees that feel strongly about the sudden enforcement regarding the dress code this year at HPHS. (Credit: Yeretzi Gutirrez / Hp Spartan Shield)
During the starting semester of 2021, Huntington Park High School students have been faced with stricter rules regarding the dress code because of new district guidelines. When starting the new semester students were taken aback by the tight grip of enforcement on the new dress code policy. During the morning announcements for the first few weeks comments were made by administrators continuing to enforce the dress code.
According to LAUSD, the dress code stated in bulletin BUL-6494.1 has not changed since 2015, which leads us to question what caused the sudden change in enforcement. The dress code overall consists of forbidding vulgar, discriminatory, illegal, or gang-related images or words. It also discusses small and minor restrictions regarding students’ safety and cleanliness. The school’s new dress code enforcement has been clear about students not wearing revealing shirts/sweaters, open-toed shoes, or ripped jeans. During one of the first few weeks of school, advisory teachers were told to show classes a PowerPoint made by administrators to further enforce the school’s rules. This PowerPoint made students feel uneasy as it almost felt unnecessary. Students also mentioned that the majority of the images showing examples of students who had violated the dress code were pictures of girls. This made the PowerPoint feel directed to girls and as if they should feel shame for wearing what they wear.
When students were asked about their experience getting dress coded, I noticed a divide between the men and women who were stopped for what they were wearing. Women who were stopped were forced to change into something that covers them. Men who broke the dress code were not stopped by any administrators or teachers.
Tyscen Keiaho, a senior at HP had a lot to say regarding this year’s dress code enforcement. When asked about how strict the dress code has been this year he said, “I think the sudden change is weird and makes some students feel uncomfortable. As far as I’ve seen students have not been dressing any differently compared to past years so where did the sudden enforcement come from.” Tyscen was also asked about his personal experience with the dress code and has said he has worn tank tops that show his shoulders and the sides of his stomach and has not gotten dress-coded. Furthermore, he had said, “To be honest I feel like the dress code is directed towards girls, I’ve broken the dress code more drastically compared to the girls around school and I’ve had no consequences.” Tyscen has spoken to other students about the dress code and found that many other students also feel this way about the dress code.
Katherine Guerrero is another student at HP, although she has had a very different experience with the dress code. When asked about the enforcement this year she said “I honestly don’t see a change or a new need for stricter guidelines, nobody that I have seen around school wears really inappropriate or revealing clothes.” She continued to explain how wearing what you like to school improves students’ overall mood. I then asked her if she had been dress coded in the past and she told us she had been dress coded for wearing a black long sleeve crop top with high-waisted ripped jeans. She expressed “I didn’t think what I was wearing would get me dress coded, I honestly felt disrespected and called out. I felt like they were shaming me for something I liked and wanted to wear.”
The new enforcement has made the majority of students at HP feel uncomfortable and not welcomed. Administrators have created an environment where students are afraid to wear what they like out of fear. Students feel like suddenly their bodies are distracting and as if they are not allowed to express themselves through their clothing. We live in a day and age where people take pride in what they wear and it’s a big part of who they are. Schools should not be focusing on what students wear but instead, encourage them to be who they are. Students should never feel like they are in trouble for what they wear. School is school and administrators should be more focused on students’ ability to learn and create rather than what they wear.
By Yeretzi Gutierrez, Girl Sports Editor