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Unreasonable Dress Code at Schools

August 29, 1993

* Having been in high school in the '60s, I must say it amazes me that situations could arise that make me feel it is necessary to write this letter. It seems that it was not very long ago that fellow students were going to court to prove they had the right to wear hair that touched the collars of their shirts, and that having that extra hair on their heads did not automatically classify them as low-class, bad or academically undesirable.

In the late '60s and early '70s we learned that it is not what we wear, but who we are that counts.

Capistrano Unified School District seems to be obsessed only with what its students wear. Frankly, I am baffled at the time, energy and money that have gone into the written material and photos sent to all students dictating that which they may not wear to school. It is beyond ridiculous. Psychologists have bombarded parents with the concept of "safe rebellion" in the '80s and '90s; the idea that there are enough real issues to deal with when raising teen-agers, and that their choice of clothing should not be made to be an issue.

Of course parents and students alike recognize the need for some boundaries regarding a dress code. Yet it is being ordered that they may not wear the popular Doc Marten-type shoes, or anything similar. Why? The "list" says that khakis may not be worn with Pendleton-type shirts. What's next, no button-down collars and no wingtips? As adults, administrators, teachers, parents and law enforcement officials need to be role models. We must be real. Set boundaries on permissible behaviors on your campus and prove to these students that we respect them for who they are and what they do; not that we judge them as undesirable for wearing a baseball cap or a belt that hangs down.

Let's have a liberal, reasonable dress code and if need be, more authority regarding individual behaviors.

ANN CUNNINGHAM

San Juan Capistrano

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