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qwazse

Girl Scouts vs. School Dress Code

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Posted (edited)

Not sure why, but this sponsored link kept popping up on my FB wall:

Your Daughter vs. Her School Dress Code

Quote

...

Get Her to Question
Rather than telling your girl that rules are rules whether they’re unfair or not, recognize this as a great opportunity for her to engage in civic action and stand up for what she believes in. The world never changes if people just shrug their shoulders and accept status quo! “Questioning school rules—whether or not they’re fair, why they exist, and whether or not they serve the purpose they were intended to— sets your daughter up to be an active member of our society as she gets older,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. ...

What I find interesting:

  • Someone at GS/USA thinks this issue can be used to promote their brand.
  • Appealing school restrictions on students is deemed a "civic action", but appealing the fashion industry's  body-shaming arms race is not even a suggestion.

At some point, any of us in BSA who've worked with young women come across this issue with our youth. In venturing, this is great fodder for ethical controversies. But, it's not something where I would tell parents that my advice is the reason they should trust their girls' personal growth to me. More importantly, if I were to present parent-facing material, I would present the multiple viewpoints of youths (both girls and boys) on the matter.

Edited by qwazse

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Posted (edited)

This piece of Girl Scout advice has been around for a while, and it lowered my opinion of GSUSA.

Quote

Stories about middle- and high-school girls being pulled out of class for wearing shorts that are deemed too short or shirt straps that are seen as too thin are making headlines, going viral, and prompting many girls and adults to question whether or not these wardrobe rules are fair.  

I feel that it is very important for kids to realize that even well-meaning adults are occasionally mistaken, and a kid needs to be able to (hopefully politely) correct a teacher in certain circumstances.   (One circumstance that comes to mind is the kid with food allergies -- he knows what he can safely eat much better that the teacher does. )

But school dress codes are a terrible example.   I am happy that our local high-school has at least a few rules (no spaghetti straps) that discourage the over-sexualizing of teenage girls.  GSUSA suggesting that girls should lobby for the right to dress inappropriately seems really wrong-headed to me. 

 

Edited by Treflienne
corrected spelling error

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1 hour ago, qwazse said:

Appealing school restrictions on students is deemed a "civic action"

Another questions is do we in scouting (whichever branch) want to promote "civic action"  or "servant leadership"?  Which focus do we think is more appropriate for training middle school kids?

 

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28 minutes ago, Treflienne said:

... But school dress codes are a terrible example.   I am happy that our local high-school has at least a few rules (no spaghetti straps) that discourage the over-sexualizing of teenage girls.  GSUSA suggesting that girls should lobby for the right to dress inappropirately seems really wrong-headed to me. ...

We had to deal with this as parents. Femurs grew, skirt didn't. The principle was doing his best to handle things discretely. Even so Mrs. Q took umbrage. Daughter wasn't offended, but also didn't think she had much agency in the situation. So, I understand the emotion. I just want to hear from an organization who is partnering with me recognize that my family (including children) might be in favor of their school's dress code -- and share advice on how I may help my daughter enter into this dialogue.

5 minutes ago, Treflienne said:

Another questions is do we in scouting (whichever branch) want to promote "civic action"  or "servant leadership"?  Which focus do we think is more appropriate for training middle school kids?

With youth, always promote both civic action and servant leadership. Middle school kids often see things going on in a community that other folks miss. Their playground/pool might be impacted by budget cuts. There might be a dangerous intersection on the way to school. Or, a newly elected public official might need to know the issues important to youth.

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It would seem that the philosophical question is - "who is responsible for the sexualitzation of girls bodies?"  Is it the girls who wear revealing clothes, or is it the boys who respond to the girls choice of clothing?  I imagine that most people would say - both.  It probably also leads to a more general discussion of appropriate vs. inappropriate clothing and how the determiniation of what is appropriate is made.  You could even then bring in a historical context - i.e., there was a time is was a scandal to see a woman's ankles.  Now, no-one thinks twice about it.

3 hours ago, Treflienne said:

Another questions is do we in scouting (whichever branch) want to promote "civic action"  or "servant leadership"?  Which focus do we think is more appropriate for training middle school kids?

 

I'd agree with @qwazse - you want to focus on both.  For me, I think we want to get Scouts thinking about how they make their own determination of what is right and wrong.  Once they decide right and wrong, what they do with that knowledge is the big question.  Ultimately, deciding what to do is a big part of leadership. 

 

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I think this article is in line with their no uniform policy. Girls complained about their terribly regressive and unpractical uniforms and instead of modernizing, GSUSA got rid of uniforms. They think other organizations should/would listen and respond in a similar fashion. 

 

I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re seeing this surface again because GSUSA thinks no uniforms/no dress code is a selling point when compared to BSA. I remember complaining up a storm every time I had to put on my brown skirt and tights with the ugly orange bow tie 🤢completely different than my daughter who thought her blue uniform was awesome and is jumping at the bit to go to  the bsa shop and get her tan and green. I’m sure the thinking is girls hated our uniforms therefor they’ll hate all uniforms.

 

 

 

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Isn't civic action just actions at a larger scale? If all decisions are based from the Scout Law, then all actions are likely servant.

I think what qwazse is saying (I could be wrong) is that the GSUSA shouldn't be encouraging scouts to act toward any specific (GSUSA sponsored) issue because they could have a different perspective locally. Teach the scouts to be responsible and learn all the specifics of the issue, any issue and they will make the right decision on this one. 

Barry

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17 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

Isn't civic action just actions at a larger scale? If all decisions are based from the Scout Law, then all actions are likely servant.

I think what qwazse is saying (I could be wrong) is that the GSUSA shouldn't be encouraging scouts to act toward any specific (GSUSA sponsored) issue because they could have a different perspective locally. Teach the scouts to be responsible and learn all the specifics of the issue, any issue and they will make the right decision on this one. 

Barry

Far be it from me to tell GS/USA what issues its girls and parents should address. It may be that this issue is confounding lots of GS Juniors, so their moms invited discussion. I'm certain some girls earned GS awards for tackling this issue in their school. So, maybe the organization provided helps to parents in similar situations -- suggesting ways that this could be a skills-acquisition moment. I've seen Bryan's blog write up similar topics on behalf of BSA and invite lots of discussion.

But, I'm puzzled as to why someone payed for it to appear as a sponsored link on FB.  Maybe GS/USA thinks that this was the kind of thing that would motivate others to follow its other posts? Maybe they just wanted to generate buzz ... good or bad? I guess, given that I posted here, they at least accomplished that.

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1 hour ago, ParkMan said:

It would seem that the philosophical question is - "who is responsible for the sexualitzation of girls bodies?"  Is it the girls who wear revealing clothes, or is it the boys who respond to the girls choice of clothing? 

Yes, that is the philosophical question, but there are also some practical concerns.

Our public schools were recently offered the opportunity to have a Spring Swim Night for each of our schools as a special after-school activity. The school board declined the generous offer, citing the anticipated difficulties they might face with inappropriate swimwear, and with students/parents taking on the role of social activists by loudly protesting the perceived body-shaming of girls. They did a roller skating party instead.

I suspect that the only result we will get from such social activism is fewer fun activities for the kids.

 

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6 hours ago, Eagledad said:

Isn't civic action just actions at a larger scale?

But what scale is appropriate at what age?   I still like the old version of the Brownie Promise "I promise to do my best to love God and my country, to help other people every day, especialy those at home."   This was for up to age 9, and helping at home was something that girls could really do.

In the newer program, the Junior Journey "Agent of Change" (for girls starting at age 9)  is encouraging civic action.   An example that is held up as a model is persuading other people to volunteer at an animal shelter.  

I'd rather the younger scouts get in the habit of actualy helping people, not just badgering other people to help.

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6 hours ago, PinkPajamas said:

and instead of modernizing, GSUSA got rid of uniforms.

Actually, they had tried modernizing, repeatedly, especially starting in the early 1970's and continuing into the 1980's.   Those uniforms were terrible.

I really did not appreciate being mistaken for a flight attendant when in uniform. 

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7 hours ago, ParkMan said:

"who is responsible for the sexualitzation  . . . .?"  Is it the girls who wear revealing clothes,

I would argue that the younger teen and pre-teen girls don't really understand how people react to what they are wearing -- they are just wanting to look "in", and probably care a lot more about what their female friends think that about what boys think.    What I don't understand is the parents who don't advise/enforce appropriate clothing for their girls.   These kids are not driving themselves to the store to buy their clothing with money they earned themselves.

 

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21 hours ago, qwazse said:

Someone at GS/USA thinks this issue can be used to promote their brand.

I've never been involved with GSUSA so take this with an appropriate serving of salt, but, I think this article aligns directly with the GSUSA brand.  Consciously or not, the GSUSA seems to be aligned with at least some of third-wave feminist thought.  Things like dress codes are seen as artifacts of male hierarchical power structures that have to be torn down, without any critical thought into why the structure exists.  To be fair, the article in the OP was more balanced than that, but the alignment of the organization seems clear to me from the outside.  Like most social experiments we won't know the good or bad of it for a few decades but I think it's safe to say there will be a measure of both.  

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11 hours ago, Treflienne said:

I would argue that the younger teen and pre-teen girls don't really understand how people react to what they are wearing -- they are just wanting to look "in", and probably care a lot more about what their female friends think that about what boys think.    What I don't understand is the parents who don't advise/enforce appropriate clothing for their girls.   These kids are not driving themselves to the store to buy their clothing with money they earned themselves.

I agree that this phenomenon is firstly girls trying to look acceptable to other girls. Being able to turn boys' heads is secondary. It's almost universal. Once my crew (all boys at the time) visited a Christian commune for a holiday open-house, the community's women and girls dressed similarly. Dresses and head covering had the same modest cut, but colors varied (think 18th century with lots of greys, blues, tans, and purples). One of my leaders asked his host about the "uniforms". The host said, "We leave that to the women. None of us guys would dare touch on that topic."

Guys do the same thing, but it seems to a lesser degree. For example, my buddies ribbed me when I was getting too tall for my jeans. It never crossed my mind that I should ask my mom for a new wardrobe. I figured if they weren't picking on me for that they'd pick on my for my purple converse all-stars. (The only outfit for which I never got smack from the guys, BTW, was when I would wear my scout uniform to school.) But more importantly, I never felt "on the outs" with the guys because of how I dressed. Same for my other buddy who always dressed sharp. I don't think it was the same for girls.

So any discussion, IMHO, needs to recognize that there is a psychological phenomenon among women upon which industry capitalizes, and "civic action" on a girls' part could involve standing up for her school's dress code and, for example, asking stores to stock fashion that conforms to it.

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