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After Principals Complain About Parents in Sleepwear, Lawmaker Introduces Dress Code … for Parents

Rep. Parkinson
Screenshot/WJHL

Ordinarily, it’s the students who complain about school dress codes.

As WJHL reports, a state representative from Tennessee has proposed a code of conduct for public schools, including guidelines for appropriate dress. But this dress code wouldn’t apply to students. It would be for parents and other visitors to the school.

Rep. Antonio Parkinson is a Democrat who represents a district in Memphis. He told Today that the idea was born out of complaints he heard from school principals:

“A principal I talked to told me a lady came into the office with her sleepwear on with some of her body parts hanging out. You got children coming down the hall in a line and they can possibly see this.”

And while the mom who wore lingerie into the office might have been the worst offender, she wasn’t alone. Parkinson added that he’d collected a number of horror stories about adults dressing inappropriately while visiting school grounds:

“People wearing next to nothing. People wearing shirts or tattoos with expletives. People coming onto a school campus and cursing the principal or the teacher out. These things happen regularly.”

That’s why Parkinson has introduced a bill intended to restore a minimum standard of decorum for school campuses.

Though each district would be allowed to set its own policy, Parkinson hopes that it will encourage adults to set a better example. He told Today:

“Whether you’re there to work, whether you’re a teacher, a parent, a vendor, a visitor, a speaker — anyone who steps on a school campus should be held to a basic minimum expectation of conduct and behavior. That includes how one dresses.”

Speaking to WREG, Parkinson clarified that this doesn’t mean that adults have to wear formal clothing — it’s more about avoiding inappropriate garb:

“I visualize clothes that are not sexually suggestive. Not wearing things that might encourage or suggest gang activity.”

Parkinson’s proposal has received some criticism. One state representative told WJHL, “In a day and age when teachers, administrators, and principals are begging for parental involvement, it could be an impediment to that.”

And some parents bristle at the idea of a dress code for adults. “If the kid is fed and cared for and loved and taken care of, who cares how their parents dress?” asked Cecilia Batson, a Tennessee mom. Batson told Today that she thought the bill was a waste of time given the state’s other education issues:

“Are we really going to get on parents for their clothes? We can’t even give our kids a decent education, but we’re going to tell parents what they can and can’t wear?”

However, Parkinson’s bill also has support from school administrators and parents who agree that adult standards have slipped.

“Things have gotten out of hand,” Tamara Cranford, a mom from Memphis, told Today. “The men don’t pull their pants up. They’re wearing shirts with inappropriate lingo on it. Things you don’t want a child seeing it.”

Cranford believes the inappropriate clothing sets a bad example for children, especially because it doesn’t take much to make yourself presentable for school. She told Today that all she wants is for parents to wear a jacket over an inappropriate t-shirt and not show up in sleepwear:

“It’s not about parents having to wear a suit or a dress or having to look corporate and ‘work ready.’ It’s just about civil decency.”

Parkinson says that he’s aware of the criticism, but that most of the feedback he has received has been positive. He told WJHL that the purpose of his bill is to make schools better:

“This is about making sure that our children have an environment that is conducive only to learning.”

What do you think?

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  1. I think it suggests that they have a very good representative for their state.

    My children are all grown now but if I had one in school I would be so thankful to have this kind of person looking out for my kids well-being

  2. Appalling but NOT a surprise in this day and age…only fair if the teachers, staff, admin – and students have to keep a certain level of decorum, so should any visitors to the schools, including parents. Would never, ever have dreamed of showing up at my granddaughter’s school in lingerie…!

  3. Agree with the principal!!! I have kids in school. He is not telling parents HOW TO DRESS, just that they dress appropriately when visiting the school. I don’t want my children seeing body parts hanging out or some man’s butt crack….nasty!!!! Come on people have more respect than that!!! These are our children. It’s only a dress code WHILE AT SCHOOL in front of our children!!!

  4. I retired after 30 years of teaching. In the late 70s and early 80s teachers and parents wore suits or business dress to conferences. Students wore “school clothes” that were changed as soon as the kids got home so the clothes would stay nice. Dress for students and teachers got more casual in the 90s. Still parents and teachers looked respectably and kids were clean but “track suits” were normal. Early 2000s torn jeans were in the classroom, unnatural hair color, piercings other than ears on girls, and boys started piercing their ears. Teachers looked shabby on “casual Fridays” and boobs were on display, but discouraged. By 2010 everything goes! Students look like they just rolled out of bed. Butt shorts are the norm. Running shorts the norm. Teachers wear jeans everyday. Tee shirts are worn, baseball caps on during class, saggy pants, thong sandals on male teachers! Everyone looks like they are going grocering at WalMart. Oh, and patriotic apparel is discouraged. Language has been downgraded. Profanity is used by students and teachers use inappropriately casual register like “pissed off” instead of “angered”. How one dresses influences behavior.

    • Yes it does ~ I went to my daughter’s high school…Oh My Word!! I couldn’t tell the teachers from the students! The place looked like a refugee camp! To say that I was disgusted was an understatement! Back in my day…the male teacher’s wore suits & the female teachers wore conservative dresses ~ You knew who the adults were…& they weren’t to be toyed with! You showed them respect! How can a student nowadays show a teacher respect when her Tramp Stamp is showing?!?! Things are much too lax!!!

  5. Respect begins at home. Unfortunate that adults have to be coerced into having some respect for others. This story isn’t over, wait and see. Just because you “can” do something, doesn’t make it right. By all means, let’s not do what’s best for the students, let’s make sure Susie’s Mom with her lingerie on feels comfortable.

    • There will be some idiots that will say that infringes on Susie’s mom’s rights. There are all kinds of ignorant and disrespectful people out there.They should be thinking of their kids first.

  6. PRAISE THE LORD FOR SOME ONE WHO WILL TAKE A STAND WHEN NEEDED. WITHOUT CHRISTIANS FIGHTING AMERICA STANDARDSS ARE FALLING MORE AND MORE. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK.

  7. PRAISE THE LORD FOR SOME ONE WHO WILL TAKE A STAND WHEN NEEDED. WITHOUT CHRISTIANS FIGHTING AMERICA STANDARDSS ARE FALLING MORE AND MORE. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK. I WAS ASLEEP 6 HIURS AGO, THIS HAPPENS TO ME ALL THE TIME. I NEVER SEND TWO MESSAGES JUST ALIKE. YOU ARE WRONG.

  8. I think that there are for more important issues than this it looks to me that you can’t teach the kids what they need so you as the administrator you tear the family up by talking about how their parents dress really ….have you ever thought about saying something to the parent ….or are you to educated to come to their level or are you afraid you say what you choose to their children why do you have to rule it up …..trying speaking up

  9. I think this is a great place to start. Its true that standards of appropriate dress in general are almost gone and there are circumstances where people need to show some respect and decency. Set a GOOD example for their own kids as well as everyone else. All school grounds, government offices really any where public, we need to dress and act like adults. That could have a big impact on all of us, knowing what is expected and doing it. It would stop a lot of bs!

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