Dress and Grooming Policies Based on Gender Stereotypes

Does your school or workplace have dress and grooming policies that treat people differently based on gender stereotypes?

The ACLU has long fought to end the practice of treating people differently in their school or workplace based on gender—including through dress and grooming policies rooted in rigid and binary sex stereotypes. Gender-specific dress and grooming policies in schools—such as unrealistic restrictions on exposing bra straps—often suggest that girls’ bodies are shameful or vulgar, that students are “distracted” by girls’ bodies and appearance, and that girls’ dress and appearance require more regulation than that of boys. In the workplace, gendered uniform and dress codes—including requirements that women wear revealing clothing or that men cannot wear make-up—reflect and reinforce stereotypes about femininity and masculinity. Biased dress and grooming policies jeopardize equal access to education and employment while subjecting women and girls to discriminatory discipline and constant heightened scrutiny regarding their bodies and appearance.

Discriminatory dress and grooming policies also invite biased enforcement against members of other marginalized groups. Black women and girls, in particular, are often targeted because of intersecting race and sex stereotypes regarding proper feminine appearance and behavior. Additionally, gendered dress and grooming policies often harm non-binary, transgender, and gender-nonconforming students by reinforcing rigid and binary sex stereotypes, inviting unnecessary and excessive policing of their appearance, and ultimately sending the message that they don’t belong.

We’d like to hear from you if your school or workplace maintains dress and grooming policies that treat people differently based on gender stereotypes. For children under the age of 13 years, this survey must be completed by your parent or guardian.

We will keep your story confidential unless we contact you and get your permission to share it.

Name that will appear with your story.
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For contact purposes in case we need to reach you. This will not be made public.
If you selected “Other,” describe what you’re reaching out about:
Examples: Girls must wear bottoms with an inseam of three inches or longer. Boys must not wear hair past their ears. Women must wear skirts or dresses. Men may not wear make-up.
Examples: Students may not show bra straps. Employees may not wear dreadlocks. Students may not wear head coverings or headwraps.
Example: My school issues more dress code citations against girls than boys. My workplace enforces hair and grooming policies against girls of color more often than white employees.

This survey does not give legal advice. Do not rely on information you get from this survey. We encourage you to speak to a lawyer to get advice on your specific situation. We cannot promise that information on this survey is complete, accurate, or up-to-date.

This survey is not a solicitation or an offer by the ACLU to represent you. We cannot promise that the information you provide will lead to any specific action on the ACLU’s part. Once you complete the survey, the ACLU may not do anything, including contact you, about your situation.

If you fill out this survey, you agree that the ACLU, any of its state affiliates, or a coalition partner, may use the information you give us, as long as we don’t include your name, address, e-mail address, or phone number, for one of the following purposes: (1) legislative testimony, (2) litigation, (3) contacting a city, state, or federal agency, or (4) telling your story to the public, including the media. If the ACLU, its state affiliates, or one of its coalition partners wants to disclose your name or other identifying information, we will contact you prior to doing so.

We will keep your name, telephone number, address, e-mail address, and any other identifying information confidential unless you give us permission to use it or unless we are ordered to turn it over by a court, although we will attempt to prevent any disclosure.

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