Leander ISD forms committee to address race, gender bias in its dress code

Education

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — As one Central Texas School District has rapidly progressed over the years, citizens have voiced their concerns over the schools dress code.

The Leander Independent School District wants to make sure its dress code bans wording that could promote racial or gender bias. A dress code committee formed after the move to conduct a district-wide equity audit.

“It was suffocating, I survived those school years but I do not want the same for our kids,” said Leander ISD teacher Kimberlly Lamkin.

Lamkin recounts a moment growing up where she felt personally targeted by her school’s dress code.

“Who will determine what is vulgar, what is provocative or what conveys messages of hate? Are my earrings offensive because they are big, and say ‘Yes queen’?” said Lamkin.

Leander ISD says a committee of 30 will revamp the district’s current code.

The committee consists of two LISD board members, five central office staff, six principals/assistant principals, three high school teachers, two middle school teachers, two elementary school teachers, seven parents and three students (two high school, one elementary).

At the district’s July 23 meeting, trustees delayed a vote on amending the student dress code, so it could have the newly formed committee take a look.

“It had language about gangs in there, it talked about doo-rags and bandanas,” said Bryan Miller, Leander ISD Director of Student Support Services. “Some of those have been historically associated with minority groups or students of color.”

That wording has already been change, but officials agreed the code could use a deeper dive.

“If I or a student wears a Black Lives Matter movement T-shirt, who will decide if that coveys a message of hate?” said Lamkin. “Will that same scrutiny be applied to a shirt that says ‘Build a Wall?”

The district says it also plans to address and root out gender bias in the code.

There is language that suggests teachers can use their own discretion, based on whether the attire will disrupt the learning environment. That discretion could also be debatable.

“Inappropriate for whom, distracting for whom?” said Lamkin.

The committee plans to present a plan to board members for approval in August. The new dress code would apply to the upcoming school year, both in the virtual learning environment and when students return to class.

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