At the July 10, 2019 regular board meeting, the Seattle School Board voted to adopt a district wide student dress policy for the first time. With the creation of this policy, unnecessary subjective views of appropriate school attire have been eliminated, instead supporting school staff in focusing their time and efforts on educating students. Historically in Seattle Public Schools, dress codes have been developed and implemented by each individual school, creating a risk of confusion, inconsistency, and disproportionate and unnecessary enforcement against female-identifying students.
Thank you to the many students and families who have shared their voices and experiences with dress codes and policies, and to the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Board, who spent the year providing feedback to research and refine the policy language. Board Policy 3224 was developed in collaboration with students and parents, school staff, and the Seattle Council PTSA, and is aligned to core values that emphasize students’ rights to be treated equitably.
The district’s core values related to student dress that serve as the foundation for the rules in the policy are as follows:
- Students should be able to dress and style their hair for school in a manner that expresses their individuality without fear of unnecessary discipline or body shaming;
- Students have the right to be treated equitably. Dress code enforcement will not create disparities, reinforce or increase marginalization of any group, nor will it be more strictly enforced against students because of racial identity, ethnicity, gender identity, gender expression, gender nonconformity, sexual orientation, cultural or religious identity, household income, body size/type, or body maturity;
- Students and staff are responsible for managing their personal distractions; and
- Students should not face unnecessary barriers to school attendance.
Universal Dress Code for the 2019-20 School Year and Beyond
Students must wear:
- Top (shirt, blouse, sweater, sweatshirt, tank, etc.);
- Bottom (pants, shorts, skirt, dress, etc.); and
As detailed in the policy, students may not wear attire that intentionally shows private parts, presents a health or safety hazard, and/or would contribute to a hostile or intimidating school environment.
The emphasis of this policy is on equitable treatment of students and regulation of student dress must be free from bias. Students will no longer be disciplined or removed from class as a consequence for their attire, and staff will use reasonable efforts to avoid shaming students in front of other students. Student attire enforcement will not create disparities in class time or increase marginalization of any group. No student shall be referred to as a “distraction” due to their attire.
Seattle Public Schools is committed to eliminating opportunity gaps to ensure access and provide excellence in education for every student.
For the full policy language, please see School Board Policy 3442.
For development of the policy, please read School Board Action Report: Approval of Board Policy 3442.