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Connecticut School District Adopts One Dress Code for All Students

A spokesperson said the policy was part of an effort to 'make our school system more open and free to all of our students'

The fourth largest school district in Connecticut has adopted one singular dress code for both male and female students.

The Hartford School District approved a “student dress code” at a Board of Education meeting which forgoes any references to “girls” or “boys” and embraces gender-ambiguous language, allowing skirts as an option for any student.

“We made the language a little more general,” Jesse Sugarman, spokesperson for the district, told CT Insider. “Instead of shirts and pants — tops, bottoms, jumpers to allow for a little more flexibility.”

The new, all-student dress code was unanimously adopted on May 16. The district has been actively seeking ways to adopt policies that mandate a culture of inclusivity toward LGBTQ students. According to a survey from the spring of 2022, 69% of families in the district reported their child’s school is “accepting and supportive.”

“We got feedback,” Johnson said. “We went through the public process. The policy is what we came up with. We started with the transgender and non-gender-conforming youth policy. And then came gender expression. Defining what it is and then trying to make our school system more open and free to all of our students.”

In August of 2022, Hartford adopted its Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Youth policy, which requires school staff not to reveal a student’s decision to identify as transgender or gender nonconforming to anyone unless the student gives permission or if legally required. Schools also must allow students to change their names on any records and require staff to address the student by his or her preferred pronouns. 

“In an attempt to remain inclusive, teachers are asked to limit the practice of segregating students by gender, and students will have the option to pick which restroom matches their gender identity,” reports WTNH. “Additionally, students will be able to choose which physical education classes corresponds with their identity, and in schools with dress codes, they have the right to dress in a manner consistent with their gender expression.”

Connecticut has been at the center of disputes over Title IX and on which team transgender-identifying athletes can compete. In 2022, the United States Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights ruled that the statewide policy – which allows biological males who identify as transgender to compete in girls’ sports – violated the rights of female athletes.  

After reviewing a complaint filed by female track runners, the office found the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference had “denied female student-athletes athletic benefits and opportunities, including advancing to the finals in events, higher level competitions, awards, medals, recognition, and the possibility of greater visibility to colleges and other benefits,” according to NBC Connecticut.

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