Burbank ASB leader wants teachers to weigh in on ‘sexist’ school dress code

Burbank ASB leader wants teachers to weigh in on ‘sexist’ school dress code
Surveys gathering feedback on Burbank Unified’s dress code were distributed to John Burroughs High School and Burbank High School faculty this week after a group of students told education leaders the policy is 'sexist' against girls. (File Photo)

Surveys seeking feedback about Burbank Unified's dress code were distributed to faculty members at John Burroughs and Burbank high schools this week after a group of students told education leaders the policy is sexist against girls.

Louie Kahn, student body president at Burroughs High who is spearheading the information-gathering process, shared an update Thursday night during a school board meeting.


The survey was emailed to faculty members at the two high schools this week, Kahn said, and he has already received results from 75 teachers.

In an earlier interview, Kahn said students received the survey Sept. 19 through a mobile app, and it received responses from hundreds of students in under two hours.

Since then, 1,056 students from Burroughs High and Burbank High responded to the survey with the majority of results coming from Burroughs students who feel the dress code is "too strict."

Kahn said 47.5% responses were from girls who have been cited for dress-code violations and 5.8% were from boys.

At Burbank Unified, clothing must not "detract from the academic environment" and cannot promote the use of illegal substances or alcohol and should be void of profanity and violence. Low-cut tops, spaghetti-strap shirts, short skirts and short shorts are not permitted, nor are beanies and hats.

If a student wears inappropriate clothing on campus, they are asked to change or a parent is asked to bring appropriate clothing.

Results showed the top three reasons students reported receiving dress-code violations were for showing shoulders, wearing spaghetti-strap shirts and short shorts.

The majority of students also supported allowing open-toed shoes or sandals, short shorts and cut-off garments with certain regulations, Kahn added.

Steve Ferguson, school board president, commended Kahn for his work in providing the student perspective.

"We've never done something like this in the school district in terms of really going out and talking about a specific policy. I'd like to give it that credence and respect," Ferguson said.

Once the data is all gathered, Ferguson said school officials will discuss holding two readings on a proposed amendment, offering time for community members to also weigh in.

In September, eight local students shared their personal experiences dealing with the dress-code policy during the public-comment period of a school board meeting.

Burroughs High student Virginia Begakis said she was pulled out of an honors class early last month because she wore a shirt with straps that were considered too thin on a 110-degree day.

"School is telling us female bodies are distracting, and it's wrong," Begakis said, countering that the actual distraction is when teachers interrupt class to send a student away to change.


Supt. Matt Hill and John Paramo, district director of secondary education, recently visited Burroughs High's Associated Student Body to explain how to create and implement policies.

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