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06/15/2024 01:05 PM
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=H&SPick=20230&cosponId=39123
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House of Representatives
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: January 5, 2023 09:49 AM
From: Representative Tim Briggs
To: All House members
Subject: School Dress Code
 
Last session, I circulated a cosponsorship memo concerning school dress codes.  The memo was a result of discussions with my family that provided me with a deeper understanding on how my daughters view the world.

Previously, I was inclined to believe school dress codes made schools safer and created a more structured learning environment.  But now, after being encouraged by my children and others to consider the issue more deeply, I now realize that the value judgments used to create these school dress codes often create an oppressive and discriminatory framework that can further marginalize individuals and groups.

A recent report (www.gao.gov/products/gao-23-105348) issued by the United States Government Accountability Office on how school dress codes and discipline policies are formulated and executed across the country noted:

"The need for school dress codes is often tied to health and safety, as schools continue to grapple with how best to keep school communities safe.  However, researchers and officials from national organizations have noted that some dress codes may create a less equitable and safe environment for some students, especially girls, Black students, and LGBTQI+ students."

Among its recommendations, the report directs the U.S. Department of Education to "provide resources to help districts and schools design equitable dress codes to promote a supportive and inclusive learning environment."

It is my belief that we are not debating clothing, but the entitlement or privilege of certain cultures, body types and genders.  We are also failing to educate our young people about the importance of consent and respecting the boundaries of others who are not like them.  I recognize that school districts have the authority to address school attire, but it is my desire that they do so under a broader societal and gender-based lens.

If we combine our desire for equity or equal treatment with actual research, statistics, and tools and not succumb to cultural or moral biases, it is my hope we can develop dress codes appropriate for a majority of the students in their respective school districts.

As such, I plan to draft legislation to require public school entities and their administrators, teachers, nurses, and other staff to receive implicit bias and cultural awareness training and that current policies and practices be revisited to reflect this training.