Introduction The expression of the students allows them

Introduction In high schools all across America, dress codes have been administered for many years. These codes, which limits the types of clothing the students can wear throughout their high school campus to varying extents through a stated rule or through social discrimination, have gone unnoticed for the most part. However, concerns over the acceptance or disapproval of the wearing of religious clothing has caused problems for the schools and students alike. As Rangoonwala’s research brought up, the acceptance of a teenager in a social group, such as one at school, is paramount to adjusting to such an environment. Part of the identity of the student is what they wear, whether it is religious or comfortable, but many students have been discriminated against for the clothing that they wear which can cause negative distractions in schools. (Rangoonwala, 2011). In the fraction of time that teenagers are in high school, it is incredibly important that the students have the freedom to express themselves as this helps them to find who they are in society and it allows them to find the field that best suits their interests for college and for their careers (Bowman., & Harris, Darcia, 2003). The expression of the students allows them to connect with their religions more deeply and allows for them to be more open about their religion. Through a decrease in the strictness of the current dress codes, this level of expression can be achieved. The failure of accepting the students for the religious clothing they wear is leading to discrimination against students and avoidable distractions in high school classrooms. Religious Inequality The discrimination against the wearing of religious clothing in high schools across America is detrimental to the social and classroom aspect of the schools. Hijabs are a common DRESS CODES DISCRIMINATE AGAINST RELIGION 3 piece of clothing worn by Muslims that may cause discrimination to the wearer. This discrimination comes from “Islamophobia” which is a term that is used to describe people who are afraid of Muslims. The hijab is used as a “red flag” to these Islamophobes as they are scared. In high schools, this can cause unnecessary discrimination and can make scapegoats of these people (Rangoonwala, 2011). There are other issues surrounding the dress codes as covered by the EPI (Education Partnerships Incorporated). The use of dress codes can decrease the overall performance of the students and can even have a negative impact on the student’s cognitive confidence. The previous Secretary of U.S. Education, Richard W. Riley sent out a message to the superintendents of schools regarding the freedom of the expression of religion. In this statement, he said that students can still wear clothing that “display religious messages” and that the wearing of religious clothing, such as a kippah or hijab, is “part of students’ religious practice” and finally, that schools “may not prohibit the wearing of such items” (EPI, 2009). Even though many people, even governmental figures have stated the importance of religious clothing, people still continue to unjustly discriminate against them. Women are targeted more than men with this discrimination, says Cécile Laborde, the author of International Journal of Constitutional Law, about the recent “Burqa ban” and “Hijab ban” in France (Laborde, 2012). Though these bans don’t take place in America, they show that such issues of discrimination don’t just occur in America and that it’s a widespread issue. Though it isn’t a law in America, it is an unspoken rule of society that such articles of clothing aren’t as widely accepted as regular clothing, such as jeans or t-shirts. So America does face the same discrimination as France, even though it isn’t as outspoken. Dress Codes To Prevent Violence DRESS CODES DISCRIMINATE AGAINST RELIGION 4 In high schools in America, there has been an alarming increase in violence in recent years. Daily, around 135,000 guns are found in the possession of students in all of 85,000 public schools across America. In response to this violence spike, schools have been enforcing dress codes. These dress codes are meant to unify the students and to make fewer scapegoats among the students, lowering the violence, even though this doesn’t take into account the students who wear religious clothing on a daily basis. These dress codes eliminate the freedom of expression of the students, for the most part, in exchange for their personal safety. The benefits outweigh the negatives here to most people, as less violence is more important than religious clothing to most people, but for the students that do still wish to express themselves freely at their schools, they are tied down by the codes put into place. Students who wore black bands around their wrists to protest the Vietnam War were suspended, even though they were only expressing their wish for a war to be ended (Mitchell, Brigham Young University Education, 1998). This suffocates the students freedom of expression to a minimum. With families that don’t have the money needed to purchase uniforms, this only adds on stress to them since the student can’t have their education without the uniform due to the rules. Other people have faced such discrimination, like an instructor who got suspended because she didn’t follow a direction to not wear her full-face veil at school and students who couldn’t wear hijabs, purity rings, and niqabs. There was also a case where a girl named Sarika Watkins-Singh refused to take her kara off, which is a bracelet that is connected to her religion being “one of the “five K’s” of Sikhism,” resulting in her being excluded from school (Gilhooley, 2008). Such discrimination is too often caused around America. The lessening of the extent that dress codes that are put into rules and that remain unspoken in society will allow for the free expression that high school students need. DRESS CODES DISCRIMINATE AGAINST RELIGION 5 Conclusion Though the intentions of the dress codes are positive, they turn out to bring stress to religious students and their families due to the lack of acceptance of some religions in schools across America. To avoid future issues with the dress codes in schools in relation to religion, there should be more education on the religions to prevent or lessen the discrimination that some religions face. There should also be the repeal of some parts of the dress codes that may ban or restrict the wearing of religious clothing because it is important to the students and their identity. This plan may take time since the education system would have to take the time to implement these teachings into their curriculum and the rules that would have to pass through the schools may take a while as well, but it would be easy to begin and it shouldn’t be too expensive. The costs of a project like this are outweighed by the importance of the acceptance of diverse people in their society, as well as their high school. Making schools a more free environment for the students to grow is especially important in the high school years as well, given that this is the last fraction of time that they are able to truly express themselves without having to worry about the responsibilities of adult life. This responsibility is left to the school system and whether they are willing to give up some time and money for something much richer: acceptance of others and their freedom. DRESS CODES DISCRIMINATE AGAINST RELIGION 6 References Rangoonwala, Fatima I. (2011). Muslim Identity, Dress Code Adherence and College Adjustment among American Muslim Women. Retrieved From http://web.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/ pdfviewer?vid=1&sid=972c1c37-967b-4e78-938d-054ba539f75b%40sessionmgr102 Mitchell, Amy., & Wilson. (1998). Public School Dress Codes: The Constitutional Debate. Retrieved From http://web.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail/detail?vid=1&sid=18c28316-46eb-4f3e8bb1-84cabc105d3d%40pdc-v-sessmgr01&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3 d#AN=682115&db=a9h Johnston, Howard. (2009). Student Dress Codes and Uniforms. Retrieved From http://files.eric. ed.gov/fulltext/ED537953.pdf Laborde, Cécile. (2012). State Paternalism and Religious Dress Code. International Journal of Constitutional Law. Retrieved From https://academic.oup.com/icon/article/10/2/398 /666037 Gilhooley, Diane. (2008). Dress Codes and Religious Discrimination in Educational Institution. Retrieved From https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/dress-codes-and-religiousdiscrimination-in-educational-institutions/403131.article ADL. (n.d.). Dress Codes. Retrieved From https://www.adl.org/education/resources/tools-andstrategies/religion-in-public-schools/dress-codes DRESS CODES DISCRIMINATE AGAINST RELIGION 7 Bowman., & Harris, Darcia. (2003). Principals Walk Fine Line on Free Speech. Retrieved From http://web.a.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail/detail?vid=7&sid=ce18624f-6dae-4e26-95b2-0e5 d9183ddc0%40sessionmgr4007&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=a9h &AN=9597191