Share Your Story: Dress Code Policies Based on Gender Stereotypes

The ACLU and its affiliates fight against discriminatory gender-based dress and appearance policies in workplaces and schools. We’ve fought for girls’ right to decide whether to wear a skirt or pants at school, for boys to wear their hair in ways that celebrate their cultural or religious traditions, and for LGBTQ+ people to wear clothes in alignment with their gender identity and expression.

In schools, dress code restrictions, such as bans on girls wearing clothing with spaghetti straps or low-cut tops or restrictions on certain hair styles, hair length or head coverings, reinforce outdated, sexist and racist stereotypes that are discriminatory and harmful to students. A new report from the ACLU of Texas shows that more than half of Texas public schools have dress code policies that shame and penalize students of all backgrounds for simply showing up in the classroom as their authentic selves — whether that's by expressing their racial or cultural heritage, gender identity, religion, or more.

In the workplace, gendered uniform and appearance codes reflect and reinforce stereotypes about femininity and masculinity and demean employees who do not conform to gender stereotypes, interfering with their ability to do their jobs. Requirements that women wear revealing clothing, make-up, high heels, and the like, or that they maintain a certain weight, sexualize women and burden them with constant heightened scrutiny regarding their bodies and appearance at work, as well as the additional financial and physical costs of such requirements.

These biased policies jeopardize equal access to education and employment.

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Tell Us Your Story

We want to know YOUR dress code story. Does your school or workplace implement dress and appearance policies that treat people differently based on gender stereotypes? Tell us why you think this policy is discriminatory and how this policy has affected you.

Please note: This form is not intended as a means of obtaining legal advice or assistance and will not establish an attorney-client relationship. Its purpose is to gather information for advocacy purposes and collect stories that may be used for public education purposes. Please do not include information you would not want shared publicly (e.g., posted online).

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