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Watch | High school students protest strict gender-rigid dress code

By Will Stroude

After their school board refused to budge on their decades-old gender-specific dress code, students at Buchanan High School in California decided to take matters into their own hands this week.

Many of the school’s students have attended classes in clothing usually associated with the opposite gender, after the Clovis Unified School District trustees last week rejected recommendations that would have allowed boys to wear long hair and earrings and removed language that says dresses and skirts are for girls, reports Fresnobee.

“We believe everyone should be able to express themselves equally. A boy with long hair is no less of a hard worker than a girl with long hair,” said student protestor Emma Sledd, who wore a collared men’s shirt to school this week.

“The reason we switched gender norms for the day was to make the statement that what we wear does not define us as students,” Sledd said. “Our district’s dress code should not favor or discriminate any gender.

Sophia Brodish, a sophomorewho wore a shirt emblazoned with the slogan “dress code sucks” to classes, added: “We live in a city where the LGBTQA+ community is very minimal and unaccepted. By allowing the dress code to become gender neutral, we are starting to bridge the gap of acceptance and unacceptance.

“High school is difficult as it is, and it’s hard to accept yourself during this period. … How could a district that is trying to give kids an education not allow us to be who we are? How could they not see that we are fighting for something we believe in? They are putting down our freedom of speech.”

The student body is by no means united over the issue, however.

“I think it’s fine the way it is”, one boy told reporters. “I’m glad they’re standing for what they believe in, but I don’t care for it too much. I wouldn’t do it”.

The issue is larger than just the student body itself, however: The American Civil Liberties Union is planning to take legal action against the school board, saying the restrictive measures in fact violate the California’s state education code.

As the controversy rumbles on, a student petition urging the board to adopt a gender-neutral dress code has amassed over 3000 signatures.

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