Saturday, August 11, 2012

Government School Clothing Control

HARBESON: School clothing choices should be optional

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — Clothing is a good example of a topic where there is a wide variety of opinions on what’s “proper” in certain situations and what’s not. Individuals can and will draw the line at very different levels.

Clothing choices are not normally a huge issue though, and even in public areas most of us are willing to leave each other alone even when we may not agree with another person’s choice of clothing.

However there is one place where this is not necessarily true: government schools.

At first glance the conflicts over clothing and calls for dress codes or uniforms make little sense. The students are not wearing anything that they can’t wear in society at large so where is the justification for the government to have any involvement in the clothing a family chooses to buy for school?

From an individual standpoint, we all know that clothing choices are quite irrelevant when it comes to learning. After all, uniforms or dress codes are not needed for a toddler to learn to walk, people can read just fine in their pajamas and this column is proof that writing can be done wearing only underwear.

So when students’ clothing is deemed “improper” by some, the reason most often used to justify interfering in their clothing choices is because it can be a distraction to other students. In other words — unless the school simply has administrators who merely want to demonstrate their power — controlling clothing in schools is not so much about the person wearing the clothes as it is about the other students who may be distracted.

I can understand this concern. It’s very easy to become distracted in these institutions that do not allow for individual interests.  Government regulations are already standardizing the most important part of an individual — his mind — so they might as well standardize clothing too, right?

I believe that the answer to this problem is the same as most other conflicts that result from compulsion in education. All that needs to be done is to make both attendance and funding voluntary.

However, I know not enough people are ready to accept that answer, which means this problem will continue as long as the compulsory institution exists. So I’ve decided to search for an idea that might at least help lessen the conflict over government school clothing control.

Though nothing can be perfect, I would like to offer what I consider to be the best way to handle the problem — all government schools should adopt the burqa as the official school uniform, for both male and female students.

Now, hold on. Don’t get your sexy, revealing panties in a wad until you hear me out. Here’s just a partial list of reasons why burqas are the perfect clothing for government school uniforms.

• First of all, students can continue to wear whatever they want to school. They only need to pull on the burqas while on the government property.

• Burqas are as close as you can get to removing all the distractions of the human body, as well as distractions of slogans and images on unapproved clothing.

• Burqas not only hide distracting breasts, butts and beautiful faces, they also reduce teasing by hiding less desired differences like weight or acne.

• Since burqas can be worn over clothing, they don’t need to be washed very often and schools can easily keep a few extras on hand to use for students who show up without the approved uniform.

• Income, gender and racial disparities disappear under a burqa. In a burqa, everyone is equal.

Since the forced association that occurs in the government schools can easily create a clash of values among those compelled to attend, it’s clear that burqas are the best solution to the inevitable conflicts that arise concerning “proper” clothing.

— Clark County resident Debbie Harbeson learns best when wearing only underwear.

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