Written by Sophie Grosserode
The debate over dress code in Knox County Schools took center stage during the public forum portion of the board of education’s meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 7.
Farragut High School sophomore Hollie Sikes identified herself before the board by saying, “You may know me as the girl who started the dress code petition.”
Sikes pointed out that she had never been reprimanded for breaking Knox County’s dress code, but knew people who had been “called out and embarrassed” over what they were wearing.
“The reason I started this petition, sincerely, was because in our day and age it is nearly impossible to find girls’ shorts that come below fingertip length,” Sikes said.
This is in reference to what’s called “the fingertip rule,” which is applied to female students in Knox County. The rule states that a student’s hemline must never rise above their fingertips. Specifically, Sikes questioned the fairness of girls having to buy all new clothes for hot school days.
“When school comes around,” said Sikes, “we are forced to spend money on brand new clothes that we will never wear outside of school.”
Sikes also noted that teachers did not seem to be held to the same standards as students.
“I have seen teachers wearing tank tops calls girls and boys alike down for wearing something similar.”
According to Sikes, the idea for the petition started with a joke she made to her friends in a group chat. On August 13, when she posted her petition on change.org, she said the hope was for maybe 500 signatures.
By September 7, the date of the meeting, her petition had 3,728 signatures.
“It was wild,” Sikes said. “It had like a thousand signatures in a day.”
Although Sikes has many supporters for her cause, there are some who disagreed with her stance on the issue. Student representative Sydney Rowell is one such case.
“I feel like our dress code is pretty lenient,” Rowell said in response. “I personally don’t see that any changes could be made to the dress code.”
Rowell expressed that more flexible regulations would make dress code unnecessarily hard to enforce for teachers and administrators.
Some of Sikes’s examples about the availability of clothes which are deemed appropriate, such as clothing store Forever 21 only offering two pairs of dress code appropriate shorts, failed to impress board member Tony Norman.
After the meeting, Norman stated, “I’m sorry, there’s the internet. You can order anything. That’s not a valid argument.”
Norman also said he would not be in favor of changing the dress code in any way.
For Sikes and her thousands of supporters online, the future of the dress code still remains unclear.
Featured image by Sophie Grossrode
Edited by Ben Webb