Yes, it was exactly fifty years ago today -- September 9, 1964, that George Leonard walked into Attleboro (MA) High School and made history. His was the first long-hair case to be litigated in court. In his honor, enjoy my original post on the topic.
Forgive the lazy post, but it was the first week of classes, I am in the middle of reviewing the page proof for Sex and Unisex, and I am being dogged by three other projects all with deadlines on or around September 15. In the meantime, the news items about dress and gender just won't take a break! Here are a few that distracted me long enough to read, even though there was not time to add commentary.
Rastafarian High School Student Sent Home From School For Ten Days For Having Dreadlocks (ThinkProgress, 9/4/2014)
School Dress Codes: The Funny-Not-Funny Video You Have to See (Soraya Chemaly for the Huffington Post, 9/5/2014)
Hear Us Roar: Finding Feminism in Fashion (Maya Singer for Style.com, 9/5/2014)
Tell Me About It: Boy who likes ‘girl’ things needs guidance, not shame (Carolyn Hax, syndicated, 9/5/2014)
OK, a little bit of commentary. Carolyn Hax's response to the concerned auntie contained brightened my dreary, ink-spattered life.
Unless someone over their shoulders is shaming them back to their side of the gender line (sadly, not a hypothetical one), children will like what they like, and that means that superheroes, bright pink and dinosaurs often live together in harmony in a child’s imagination.
A. Blouses/skirts, sweaters/skirts, or sport type dresses shall be worn.1. Blouses, dresses, and sweaters must have armholes high enough to cover undergarments.
2. Extremely tight fitting clothing shall not be worn.
3. Skirts shall not be more than four inches (4") above the knee.
4. Midriffs, backless, shoulderless dresses are not acceptable. Spaghetti straps or tie straps are not to be worn. Blouses should be worn under low necked sweaters.
5. Blouses must be worn tucked in unless the blouse [**7] is designed to be worn outside the skirt as an over-blouse.
6. Play clothes, such as slacks, pedal pushers, shorts, Bermudas, leotards without a skirt, etc., are not acceptable wear unless specifically designated for special occasions.
A. Hair styles shall be neat, properly combed, appropriately arranged, and extreme styles avoided. Bangs are to be neat and short enough to show the eyebrows.1. Pincurls, clippies, rollers, or glitter may not be worn during school hours. Head scarves are not to be worn in classrooms.
A. Make-up shall be applied sparingly and not to the point of attracting undue attention.1. Excessive jewelry is not appropriate for school wear.
A. Shoes should be appropriate for school wear. Roman type sandals or boots are not acceptable. Hosiery, anklets, or peds are to be worn for good health practices.
Last week I was joking with a friend that the first longhair court case in 1965 was "the Fort Sumter of the Culture War". Maybe it wasn't such a joke, after all. A map of the states where school dress codes were upheld in the majority of court cases neatly overlays the maps of opinion on other cultural issues. At the extremes, the states within the jurisdiction of the Fifth Circuit (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi) upheld the school's position in 12 of 13 cases. The Second Circuit (Vermont, Connecticut and New York) only had three dress code cases between 1965 and 1978, and ruled in favor of the students every time.
From the Perryville, Arkansas school dress code, 1972:
After checking in some stores and talking with parents concerning the girls' dress, we have decided to relax the code. We will allow jeans that are made for girls to be worn, providing: