Dress code or shoulder ban?

Kiran Singh, Beyond Liberty Editor

Dress codes, while utilized globally by educational administrators, hold the potential to disrupt a student’s learning despite its pure intentions. Dress code, something that’s supposed to protect students’ learning environment, actually disrupts it purely with its existence.
The dress code is meant to “provide a safe learning environment where all students feel comfortable,” according to the Liberty Student Handbook. It “must not present health or safety problems, intimidate others, or cause disruption.” Given that you’re not wearing battle armor covered in Ebola pathogens, the main issue that students’ clothing creates is that it may “cause disruption.”
A student’s choice to express him or herself can come through how they dress, and for a staff member or administrator to subjectively deem the student’s appearance distracting takes away from the freedom of student expression. Is it not ironic that the dress code, in protecting the learning environment, allows staff to send students home to “secure more appropriate clothing?” Doesn’t being sent home take away from that student’s learning too?
Furthermore, teachers always tell students that high school prepares students for college, but most colleges don’t have dress codes, yet they still produce successful and educated people. If high schoolers are expected to act like adults, why do we monitor appearance? Aren’t we adults enough to concentrate on what matters, and not someone’s bare shoulder?
One could also argue that the dress code sexualizes girls at a young age, implying that their education isn’t valuable compared to that of males, since they have to go home to change so the boys can learn. However, the dress code is also unfair to males. The idea that males can’t focus on linear optimization because they can see someone’s midriff generates the thought that females’ “revealing” clothing distracts boys. This should be insulting to the guys out there, because the dress code implies that you’re not capable of focus. It insinuates that you don’t have self-control. You do, don’t you?
The dress code is meant to keep students safe, but it perpetuates these harmful notions that boys have no self-control, that girls are sexual objects, and that the learning environment should be made “safe” based on subjective judgment at the expense of a student’s learning opportunities. Abolishing the dress code and trusting students’ freedom of expression would democratize the secondary education institution, and show students what’s expected of their judgment in “the real world.”