One might ask why two friends felt the need to raise their tightly clasped hands high into the air today at lunch. Some might call this protest, some might call this silly. I call this necessary.
You might already be familiar with my high school and its recent breakout in the media. If you happened to miss my last blog post, Pisgah High School is a small school located in small town, North Carolina. This year we have had some complications concerning the decisions of our administrators that has not only made public news, but national news. This news has caused the majority of the general public to disapprove of our school’s choices and cast a shadow on our administrators. Although I’m not here to bash my high school, I am here to inform others of the struggles seen not only at my school, but many others across the nation.
Students–including myself–have been experiencing a new round of happenings this past week that have been brought to my attention.
Changes have been happening this year at Pisgah. Whereas I usually try and understand change, the rules that are now being enforced seem ridiculous to me. You can just consider me a silly teenager, a complaining girl, anything you want, really. I just want you to hear me out, read this with an open mind, and tolerate my ranting.
These said changes began at the beginning of the school year with dress code. I try to be tolerate of dress code and I try and understand the reasoning behind it. The purpose of high school is to not only prepare you for college, but to prepare you for the real and working world. Part of being in the workforce includes knowing how to properly dress in given environments. This is why most high schools revolve their dress codes around appropriate clothing choices and away from more revealing or inappropriate outfits.
Now, I’ll admit, before this year, dress code at my high school wasn’t really enforced. Everyone knew their boundaries and most people didn’t try and push the limit with their outfits. People were still able to wear what they wanted without worrying about being sent home. Not only has it been enforced this year, but it has been revised.
At the beginning of the year, we were called by graduating class and separated by sex to have a meeting regarding dress code. The boys were told “hats are not allowed inside classrooms” (a rule most schools are familiar with) and “tank and muscle tops must cover underarms and side of chest areas” (in order to, what we were told, keep underarm and chest hair concealed). Girls were informed that pants/skirts could fall no shorter than the length of one’s fingertips when their arm is rested against their side. Girls are, as always, also told that they cannot bear cleavage and tank top straps must be two inches in width.
Two of these rules particularly piss me off.
Boys, we don’t want to see your underarm hair because…ew.
I remember hearing something like this in the meeting I had to attend back in the fall. The reason boys aren’t allowed to wear their tank tops (or “wife beaters”, as they’re called around here) is so that people don’t have to deal with the excruciating pain that meets their eyes when they witness underarm or chest hair.
Sure, in most business professional settings, it is viewed as unacceptable for men to expose chest or underarm hair; however, most business men wear button-downs everyday and know that, in order to keep their job, they need to dress appropriately.
This is a public high school.
Going to school is a casual experience, not a professional one.
So, then, why would it be inappropriate for boys to let their natural hair peek through their tanks? What is so disgusting about body hair? In case you didn’t know, everyone has body hair–even girls, so why should boys have to conceal theirs? (Fun fact: did you know that the hair under your arms is exactly the same as the hair on your head?)
Your shorts are shorter than the length of your fingers…please cover up.
Excuse me? As Branson Wilson, a student at Pisgah High School, put it, “I don’t like how shortness is based on the fingertip rule. My legs are way longer than my arms so my shorts will ‘look’ short.” This rule doesn’t work for every body type. Some people have long arms, some people have short legs, and some people–like me–are cursed with pudgy legs. The “fingertip rule” automatically rules out shorts that may ride up while walking and the illusion that long legs create.
Also, most teen clothing stores/departments do not sell shorts that meet most school’s dress codes. Keep that in mind.
The way dress code is enforced is shocking.
Since dress code is mainly enforced towards girls (due to the overly sexualized way society views our bodies–that is a topic I talk about here), many girls–including myself–are constantly worried about their summer/springtime outfits and what they can and cannot wear to school. For instance, even though I was wearing a dress code appropriate skirt to school today, I still found myself pulling my skirt down as I walked through the halls and nervously glancing over my shoulder. People should not have to go to school worried about what they’re wearing.
The administrators have been known to say that violating dress code is a distraction to students, but what’s really the distraction is when teachers are told to stop in the middle of their class and have girls stand up (in front of everybody) to make sure their shorts are long enough. Not only is this taking away class time and valuable tax dollars, but it strips any girl of her pride and self confidence. No one should be judged on their clothing in front of a room full of people.
The topic of dress code is one I could rant on about for ages, but it’s time to move onto our second topic: PDA.
Most people that are in high school or have been through high school are very familiar with the idea of PDA (public displays of affection). Teenagers are horny creatures, there’s no denying it. I’ve had my fair share of complaints when I see couples going for the gold in the middle of the hallway but, for the most part, teenage couples keep it calm at school (and by calm, I mean teenage calm…so maybe a couple of seconds of tongue and without groping). Most people keep their PDA to the sides or less busy parts of the hall and refrain from anything too inappropriate–they share a hug, a couple quick kisses, sweet words, and are on their way.
I mean, they’re not getting pregnant between classes. (Note: if you get pregnant, that’s your own damn fault.)
Today, however, something a little out of the ordinary happened. Without warning, detentions were given to couples in the hallway. And, from what I could tell, these couples weren’t even locking lips.
I witnessed two of these different couples getting lectured by one of our vice principals. Neither one of them were doing anything too vulgar, either; they were just sharing a common hug like one I might share with my grandma.
One of these detentions was given before school even started at 8:05 am. Natalie Abbott, a Junior at Pisgah, was just sharing a ten second hug with her friend Hunter when an administrator approached them, “…she told us to come over to her and asked me my name and date. Told me hugs needed to [be] short…And I had three days [of detention].” Three days of detention for sharing a friendly hug with someone?
This is a public high school, not a solitary confinement.
This news spread like wildfire throughout our small school, and next thing we knew, multiple couples were assigned detentions–without warning–for public displays of affection.
If you don’t think this is outrageous, consider what your reaction would be if your child came home with three days of detention for something that was never enforced before.
I asked my dad what he would think.
I’m a straight A student, I’m responsible, and I’ve never had so much as a call down to the office in my life. What would he think if I came home with three days of detention for hugging someone of the opposite sex? He considered it “a little extreme”, especially without warning. He believed that it would be the wrong way for a school to approach the problem. Even if there is an anti-PDA rule (which I’ve never heard of), they should make an announcement (or, oh..I dunno, call us all to the auditorium like they did in the fall) telling us that they’re going to begin enforcing such rule. They shouldn’t be handing out detentions like candy–and without warning.
These are the two major problems I have seen recently at Pisgah; they effect the majority of the school. There have been other weird bans, though, like: pajamas (which is understandable, but it took away everyone’s favorite spirit day), fake tails (fake tails do seem a bit bizzare, but they weren’t “distracting” like they were claimed to be), and let’s not forget a gay boy being told not to wear heels to school because it violated dress code (I wear heels to school all the time??????).
High school is a time to find yourself and that can’t happen when you have people telling you how to dress and act. We should be able to learn etiquette in a friendly environment that doesn’t keep us on our toes. We shouldn’t be punished for being compassionate. We shouldn’t be punished for having hair. We shouldn’t be punished for being ourselves.
We should be able to hold our best friend’s hand in lunch without worrying about getting a detention.