Tag Archives: Dress Code

How much dress code is too much dress code?

Dress codes. Whether they prohibit clothing with inappropriate language or simply just shorts that are too short, nearly every school has one. But the real question is if the First Amendment grants us the right to free speech, then why do schools have a right to restrict what students can and cannot wear?

This dilemma goes all the way back to 1969, when the Tinker V. Des Moines court case took place. Prior to this event, students from a public school in Des Moines, Iowa wore black armbands to school in order to protest America’s involvement in the Vietnam War. Despite being warned to take them off, the students continued to wear them. This then lead to several suspensions because the principal saw the armbands as a potential disruption in the learning environment. Following the suspensions, the parents of the students decided to sue the school for their decision because it violated their children’s right to free speech. The case was eventually taken to the Supreme Court, where it was ruled in a 7-2 decision that neither students nor teachers “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” In other words, the court decided that the students had a constitutional right to wear the armbands because they were a form of free speech. However, based on current dress codes, school authorities clearly do still have the right to prohibit student’s dress to some extent. This is where things get tricky because what are the limits?

Ultimately, it comes down to the idea that schools cannot legally restrict expression because it is unpopular or they disagree with it, but they can restrict expression if it creates a disruption of the learning environment. For example, a student is completely allowed to wear a New England Patriots shirt to school, even if the principal hates the Patriots. The First Amendment gives him that right because it does not create a disruption of the learning environment. But, on the other hand, a student does not necessarily have the right to wear a shirt with a racial slur on the front of it. Each school has their own rules, but most schools would view this sort of attire as disrespectful and inappropriate. Plus, it could offend other students and lead to a disruption of the learning environment. All in all, students do not shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate, but these rights do not come without limitations.

Works Cited

” Dress Codes Vs. Free Speech: Ebscohost .” Web.b.ebscohost.com. N. p., 2019. Web. 25 Feb. 2019.

“Facts And Case Summary – Tinker V. Des Moines.” United States Courts. N. p., 2019. Web. 25 Feb. 2019.

” Free Speech At School: Ebscohost .” Web.a.ebscohost.com. N. p., 2019. Web. 26 Feb. 2019.


Should dress codes be allowed in schools?

Essential question: Does restriction of students clothing choices in school violate the freedom of speech clause of the First Amendment?  

Most students know about the first amendment and how it gives them many freedoms one of those freedoms being the freedom of expression. Some students in school believe that student dress codes or school uniforms go against this freedom they are given. In some senses school dress codes do but the dress code is there to prevent distractions to other students learning. In schools that have school dress codes they are trying to prevent the distractions that could come with students choosing what they can wear. Theses are valid concerns that school administration can  have there are many arguments that go against school dress codes.

Theses arguments against the dress codes and student uniforms are valid arguments. In crossen vs. Fatsi one student was told he needed to shave because it had gone against the school dress code. The dress code stated that “Students are to be neatly dressed and groomed, maintaining standards of modesty and good taste conducive to an educational atmosphere. It is expected that clothing and grooming not be of an extreme style and fashion.”. In the Supreme court ruling they said that the school board does not have the ability to state the grooming standards of students. In another school students are required to wear school uniforms. In the case of  Littlefield v. Florney students were told that they had to wear polo type shirts and blue or khaki color bottoms. If students were not in there uniform they would be pulled out of class and punished for not being compliant. This not only goes against the first amendment but it also disrupts student’s learning. Rather than students being able to express themselves in what they wear they are forced to look like everyone else showing that conformity is alright. In another school with a dress school uniform policy, some the Frudden’s parents of two young children tried to fight it. In the policy the students had to wear a school uniform or a nationally recognized organization on days the students have meetings. An example is boys scouts or girls scouts. On the first day of school the children didn’t wear there school uniform then on the second day of school they wore there soccer uniforms that were from the american youth soccer association. These students got called out of class and told to change because the team was not meeting on that day. From this the school is making the students miss class time to deal with something that was not a distraction and that was a very minimal problem.

In schools students should have the ability to choose how they would like to dress as long as it doesn’t create a distraction to other students in class. This would create a school environment that students are free to express themselves freely in a reasonable manner and not conform to others.  

“Crossen v. Fatsi, 309 F. Supp. 114 (D. Conn. 1970).” Justia Us Law, law.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/FSupp/309/114/2096028/.


CEPI Education Law Newsletter

Your Bibliography: Vacca, Dr. Richard S. CEPI Education Law Newsletter. 2018, https://cepi.vcu.edu/media/university-relations/cepi/pdfs/newsletters/2014-15/2014-9EdLawNewsletter.pdf. “FindLaw’s United States Fifth Circuit Case and Opinions.” Findlaw, caselaw.findlaw.com/us-5th-circuit/1408648.html.


Disruptions in Class

School is a place where students are free to express themselves, yet where is the line drawn when it comes to wearing hateful or controversial items? The public school’s dress code falls under the freedom of speech section of the First Amendment. Students are guaranteed the right to freely express themselves, unless the item of clothing is a distraction to other students or causes a disruption in class. Problems with clothing might arise with controversial topics such as political, social, cultural, etc. Higher enforcements may be involved if a school’s peaceful environment is interrupted.

One of the most famous cases where the United States Supreme Court became involved was the Tinker V Des Moines case. In this case, students expressed themselves by wearing a black armband to protest the war and were suspended. At first the US District Court ruled with the school, but then the case went to the United States Supreme Court, where they ruled in favor of the students. Each case may be different and it is important not to base each one off of the Tinker V Des Moines Case. Another occasion where a higher official was involved was in the case of Castorina es rel. Rewt v. Madison County School Board. Two high school students wore a shirt with the Confederate Flag on it to school, and were suspended for not following the dress code. The case ended up going to the federal district court and then to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The judges found the case to be very similar to Tinker V Des Moines, however in this instance they ruled that there was, “the appearance of a targeted ban”, and it was sent back down to the lower court. Although many times the case of Tinker V Des Moines is referred to as a classic example, it is important to realize that there may be uncertainty with each situation, therefore every incident must be handled differently.