At the last meeting of Higley Unified School District, members decisively passed a bundle of new policies addressing student safety in the wake of a teacher being accused of an inappropriate relationship with a student.
The board swiftly and appropriately banned teachers from flirting, commenting on a student’s attractiveness, making sexual jokes or innuendos, giving personal gifts, confiding with students on personal and private matters, and socializing with a student outside of school.
Not so swift, however, was the passage of a new suggested dress code. A proposed revision would have outlined that students cannot wear see-through clothes, expose undergarments or undergarment areas, or their private parts. However, some parents and board members felt this didn’t go far enough. They began a debate over whether to keep parts of the old policy in place which also prohibit students from “immodestly” exposing the chest, abdomen, and midriff.
In other words, what started as a decisive crackdown on predatory adult behavior has now turned into a debate over girls’ modesty. The unfortunate message now being sent is that teenage victims are to blame for the actions of their adult abusers.
Modesty advocates are focusing their arguments on concerns over preparing students for the workplace. While some of these arguments aren’t without merit, we can’t also forget: doctrines of female modesty are vehicles for victim blaming, especially in religious circles.
Kudos, however, to Board President President Tiffany Shultz, who went on record saying she did not want to come up a policy based on “my moral beliefs, my religious beliefs."
The policy is now being redrafted, and action may be taken on it at the Aug 23rd meeting at 5pm, 2935 S. Recker Road, Gilbert. Board member contact info can be found here.