April 13, 2021

3,500 Knox County students sign petition to challenge dress code policy

A new school year means a new dress code for Knox County students.

Written by Vanessa Rodriguez 

A new school year in Knox County means new enforcements in dress codes. One Knox County student is trying to make some changes.

Hollie Sikes, a sophomore at Farragut High School, says the school has cracked down on dress-code enforcement this year, prompting her to start a petition against some of the more stringent dress restrictions.

“I actually do believe they [school administration] will take it to heart. I have tried to make my message simple and clear. I have seen people do it with rebellion, but I didn’t want to go about it that way,” Sikes said.

Abbey Harris from Knox County schools told WATE 6 that “we do certainly appreciate and value the opinions of our students and invite them to share any issues or concerns they may have with the dress code as it stands today with their school administrators and/or board representative.”

Sikes plans to speak to the principal and superintendent, and will also appear before the Board of Education in early September.

Montana Ivester, a senior at Farragut High School, signed Sikes’s petition. Staff had warned her about leggings, short-lengthed garments, and having shoulders visible. She said she does not believe Knox County will make any changes regarding their dress code, but she would like to see more flexibility.

“I tried to make it clear that we need a dress code but not as strict,” Sikes said.

“I understand not wanting us to show a lot of our bodies, but I don’t think shoulders matter that much. Everybody has shoulders. I don’t think they should be sexualized and causing a distraction. Especially with taller people the fingertip length rule needs to re-evaluated, not booty shorts but something more reasonable maybe to your thumb or halfway through your palm,” Ivester said.

Ivester said not many clothing stores sell shorts that follow the guidelines of the dress code.

According to Ivester, the dress code is not equal in the guidelines for boys and girls.

“There are shorts that boys wear called Chubbies and they are not fingertip length for them, but they get to wear them to school and nobody ever says anything to them,” she said.

According to Sikes, appropriate shorts for boys are easier to find than those for girls.

“I don’t feel like the dress code is targeted at girls, but girls receive most of the backlash simply because of the way it’s constructed,” said Sikes.

According to Ivester and Sikes, uniforms could be an option, but may given students a sense that they can’t be trusted to make mature dress decisions.

“I feel like there would be a lot of outrage with the uniforms and someone would find some way to get around uniforms. If we had khaki pants, some girl would come in with extremely tight khaki pants or a short shirt like a polo,” said Ivester.

“I only wanted about 500 signatures but now having 3,500 signatures is wild. I didn’t even think I would ever get that much,” Sikes said.

More information about Sikes’ petition can be find at change.org.

Edited by Melanie Faizer

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