"Male hair cannot extend below plane of the shoulder" and "no cross dressing:" Critical queer analysis of high school dress codes in the United States

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2017-01-01
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Reddy-Best, Kelly
Dong, Huanjiao
Choi, Eunji
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Abstract

With a queer theory lens, we analyzed if high school dress codes outlined in official handbooks allowed for flexibility in expression of gender and sexual identity. We used the content analysis method and analyzed public high school handbooks from the 2016-2017 school year that contained dress codes. We were interested in analyzing for emergent themes across a variety of geographic locations; therefore, handbooks were sought from five rural, five urban cluster, and five urbanized areas in each state (excluding Hawaii) resulting in analysis of 735 handbooks. In many handbooks (n = 615) the dress codes were not separated by gender. Yet, analysis of the remaining dress codes revealed the theme that there was marginalization of gender non-conforming or transgender identities or expressions. This was evident in that the dress codes were sometimes (n = 120) separated by gender with gender or sex specific terms such as "ladies" or "guys."

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