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A Sacramento school district is making its dress code policy more inclusive

San Juan school district policy aims to be more inclusive
San Juan school district policy aims to be more inclusive 02:50

SACRAMENTO - The San Juan Unified School District in Sacramento is changing its dress code policy to be more inclusive. It comes after some student groups said they were being targeted more than others with enforcement.

"Sometimes, the guys get to wear whatever they want, like they could go out shirtless honestly and they wouldn't say anything," said Niveen Saeed, a senior at Mira Loma High School.

Raj Rai, the director of communications for the district, said this is something the district has had in the works since 2019 when students first voiced their concerns. It was placed on the backburner with the pandemic.

Now, a dress code committee of students, staff and parents has created a draft hoping to make enforcement more consistent across all school campuses.

"The dress code policy was created more than 20 years ago, so we are at a very different time now than we were then," Rai said.

What is the new dress code?

Currently, San Juan Unified schools each create their own, sometimes unwritten, policies. Rai said this has created inconsistent enforcement and certain students were being targeted more than others.

"We heard a lot from students who identify as female and students with different body types, size and type. So not just minority-driven but also culture and religion," Rai said.

The committee has drafted the new district-wide policy and also created a gender-neutral student diagram modeling the dos and don'ts of what to wear to school.

The diagram notes that students can wear spaghetti straps, halters and midriff tops. Underwear will not be allowed as outerwear, but straps and waistbands can be exposed.

"Honestly, it's embarrassing being pulled out just because you are wearing a certain type of shirt," Saeed said.

The dress code draft said that to avoid this public body shaming, students in violation will receive a slip from a staff member asking them to change.

"An individual student's clothing and self-expression will not be regulated based on another student or staff member's personal perspective or discomfort," said Rahmah Adbulwahab, a student at Mira Loma High, who was reading through the policy.

She is concerned about that part of the draft and thinks there still needs to be some boundaries in students expressing themselves.

"A school is still supposed to be a professional environment," Adbulwahab said.

Rai said the district hopes a district-wide dress code will keep the focus on learning and limit class interruptions.

San Juan Unified will have the survey open for feedback until May 17. The dress code committee plans to make further changes to the draft before the school board votes on it in June. Rai hopes it could be implemented as soon as Fall 2024.

"We want them to show up to school as their authentic selves and feel comfortable," Rai said.

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