Arizona parents’ reaction to dress code policy is dramatic

As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. Ira Latham, a father of four in Arizona’s Higley Unified School District, stuck to this as he stripped down to a crop top and booty shorts at a board meeting.

Recognizing that this newly shown attire was not appropriate for the meeting, Latham was hoping it would make the board realize that their new dress code policy was unsafe and distracting.

The new dress code would allow students to wear clothes that expose their midriffs. Tank tops would also be allowed, and students would not be penalized for their undergarments showing incidentally. 

I hope to see more of this growth in other schools, as clothing is a huge way in which people express and identify themselves.

Is a bra strap or belly button all that distracting? Not at all — and if it is, maybe the adult in the situation who is being distracted by a young girl’s midriff or undergarment strap should be penalized instead of her. 

Latham was not the only parent upset by this change in policy, with one mother saying, “If you can’t respect yourself, I’m not sure how you can respect others… so it’s a distraction, yes — that’s also a concern. But also, we need to be raising these girls to be women in society and have that self-respect and dignity.”

It is so interesting to me how this comment only mentions raising girls to respect themselves. Where are the complaints about the boys? After all, the policy literally states, “Undergarment waistbands and/or straps that are incidentally visible under clothing are permitted.” So why is all the focus on girls?

Boys wear sagging pants that reveal the waistband of their underwear, but apparently that is not the same as a girl’s bra strap peeking out of her sweater.

Other parents were upset by the fact that the new policy was not very specific, which I can see being an issue. Specificity is always important when establishing new rules. However, saying that showing a midriff means the girl lacks respect for herself, or that she is a distraction, is wrong — especially when they are blamed for the reactions of others.

In his speech, Latham said, “As a parent, I expect the district to be able to enforce policies that help my children be able to go to class and know how they can contribute to a safe classroom environment, as well as limiting the needless distractions in class.”

Why is it that the girls have to limit the distractions? Why is it the fault of the minor, not the eyes of the adult? 

While I can admit his point on preparing children for the fashion of the workforce, I can’t help but argue that he shouldn’t have sent his kids to public school, then. If what his teenagers and their friends wear is that big of a deal to him, why not send them to a private school with uniforms?

Some parents feel that this new policy is a great way to help other schools get on a similar track and will allow the kids to express themselves through clothing, and thankfully, the board agreed, voting 3-2 in approval of the change.

I hope to see more of this growth in other schools, as clothing is a huge way in which people express and identify themselves. If adults have a problem with it and see belly buttons and bra straps as a distraction, I recommend they retrace their steps and ask who they really are upset with — the child or the one who will be looking?


Featured photo courtesy of Arina Krasnikova, Pexels