In Conversation

The principal of Louisville’s Eastern High School issued an apology after some girls from the school were turned away from their homecoming dance this fall because their dresses were too short, violating the school’s dress code. Some parents and students were particularly upset because hemlines were being measured by school officials before girls were allowed into the dance. The incident raised questions about whether dress codes in Jefferson County Public Schools are enforced fairly.

Schools within the Jefferson County Public Schools’ district are allowed to create their own dress codes. That has led to a range of rules and how they are enforced, and some parents have alleged the rules enforce sexism. Data on dress code violations in Jefferson County Public Schools finds girls are cited more often for dress code violations than boys among schools without uniforms, where dress codes can be applied more subjectively. 

The incident at Eastern is is not the first time a school in Jefferson County reevaluated its dress code amid controversy. Butler Traditional High School’s 2016 dress code banned dreadlocks, twists, braids and cornrows, drawing ire from students and parents who called the ban racist. The school’s policy was lifted, but Democratic State Representative Attica Scott says there should be a law that bans discrimination based on a person’s hairstyle. She’s sponsoring a bill to that effect in the 2020 legislative session. 

This week In Conversation, we’ll talk about dress codes in JCPS and other public and private school systems and how those rules are enforced. Our guests include:

  • Courier Journal Education Reporter Olivia Krauth
  • University of Louisville Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Chair Dawn Heinecken

Listen to In Conversation live on 89.3 WFPL Friday at 11 a.m. or follow along with our live tweets at @WFPLnews. Call with your questions or comments at 502-814-TALK or tweet us with the hashtag #WFPLconversation. We’re also on Facebook.