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The School Dress Code and Your Middle Schooler

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Your child will encounter numerous changes in middle school, and one of those might be the school rules that your student's school might enforce. The school dress code is something your student should know about well before that first day of middle school. Understanding the dress code and what your child should and should not wear to school, and why the rules are in place, is crucial to avoiding problems throughout the school year. And despite your child's opinion on the matter, many dress code rules are in place for good reason, such as maintaining order in the classroom or the school, or preventing health and safety issues.

Dress codes are often disputed by students and parents. Some believe dress codes and school uniforms are too rigid, others say the students should be able to express themselves and that dress codes are a violation of freedom of speech. School officials argue that dress codes help them maintain order in the school, help prevent distractions, and sometimes even theft or violence.

Below are a few dress code rules that your child's school might enforce. Check the student handbook for specifics, or be sure to ask about the dress code at the middle school open house or orientation.

School Dress Codes - What to Expect

Most schools have dress codes in place, but what may be appropriate at one school may not pass muster at another. What's more, some middle schools may only occasionally enforce the rules while others may routinely send students home for violating them. The best of defense is to know the rules and follow them.

While many private and public schools do require school uniforms, many do not. But that doesn't mean anything goes. For the most part, schools ask the students follow the general guidelines below:

  • Avoid clothing with vulgar words, sayings or illustrations on them
  • Avoid wearing hats, or scarves (as they can be a distraction in class)
  • Avoid clothing with tobacco or alcohol logos on them
  • Avoid clothing that promotes racism, is offensive to women or is otherwise offensive
  • Avoid skirts or shorts that are above the knee line
  • Avoid pants that fall below the wasteline
  • Avoid shirts or tops that are strapless or have spaghetti straps
  • Avoid clothing that can pose a distraction in class
  • Avoid clothing that is unsafe (poses a tripping hazard) etc.
  • Avoid clothing that is associated with gangs (or even colors that are associated with gangs)
  • Avoid clothing that is too tight or sexually suggestive
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