Clovis Unified School District could relax its controversial dress code after all.
The board will consider revising the policy later this month, despite rejecting a nearly identical proposal in January. The proposed revisions would allow boys to wear long hair and earrings and would strike language that says dresses and skirts are for girls.
The American Civil Liberties Union warned the district that its decades-old dress code breaks state law protecting gender expression, but trustees voted to uphold it anyway, saying the policy is tied to students’ high test scores. Clovis Unified is one of the top-performing districts in the state.
The modified policy, which was reviewed by the district’s legal counsel and administration, aims to “reflect existing practices and current law,” according to the agenda for the March 30 school board meeting. The board will discuss the proposal at that session, and will take a vote at a meeting April 6.
The policy would set a single standard regardless of a student’s gender, and also broadens cause for exemptions. In addition to religious reasons, the new proposal would allow students to be exempt for medical reasons and “other good cause based on legal requirements.”
Along with the American Civil Liberties Union, students also have protested, with boys wearing dresses to class to defy gender norms they say are perpetuated by the policy.
However, several Clovis Unified parents have shown support to keep the dress code the way it is, and say it helps prepare students for careers and responsibilities after high school.
The new policy still would regulate the length of shorts and bans several things including hair or mustache styles that “cause undue attention,” military clothes, professional sports logos, frayed or torn clothing, fleece sweatpants and sleepwear.
In January, Clovis Unified Trustee Ginny Hovsepian spoke passionately against the proposed policy, saying it was un-American to change the district’s long-instilled grooming regulations.
“Just because it’s a law doesn’t mean we need to put up with it,” she said then. “This community is being assaulted from afar with what I believe is an overreaching law regarding gender equity.”
Hovsepian later voiced concern about students being kicked out of class for violating the dress code, and asked that it be revisited.