Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 5-2022

Faculty Advisor(s)

Dr. Lynn Horton


Whether dressing for the private or public, clothing is an essential aspect of the human experience; making it a topic that all individuals have some form of connection to. Dress code policies have been a point of contestation for many students for centuries, dating back to Native American boarding schools limiting certain types of clothing or the landmark Tinker v Des Moines case of 1969. Even through the courts at the time argued that students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate” in regards to their political expression, dress codes continue to persist in American schools (ACLU). However, students of color, particularly girls of color, have differing experiences from White students in terms of who is being reprimanded for a dress code infraction (NWLC, 2018). Researchers have studied the relationships of Black girls with dress code policies, but less research has investigated the experiences of Latina/e/x identifying girls and how their race and gender intersect to create their specific lived experiences. To streamline the experiences of Black girls as the reality for all girls of color falsely depicts the girls’ experiences as universal and furthers the homogenization of the category “people of color” or “women/girls of color.” Through expanding on research conducted on the experiences of Black girls and incorporating theories of color-blind racism, intersectionality and working class femininity, this research examines the experiences of high school aged Latinas with dress code policies. Through semi-structured interviews with six participants who recently graduated high school, themes of color-blind sexism, curvy bodies as hypersexual, and the limitation self and cultural expression emerged. For high school aged Latine girls, the dress code is yet another way for color-blind sexism to manifest itself in their lives and the institutions they belong to. The problems students discussed were not the result of individual racism by the authority figures, but by the policy itself. This shifting of blame to the individual and not the structure allows color-blind sexism to persist in institutions through their policies, which includes K-12 public schools. By viewing the young Latinas’ experiences through color-blind and intersectional lenses, we can better understand the experiences of Latina girls with dress code policies, how it impacts their lives, and how their identities were formed around and in conjunction with these experiences.


Presented at the Spring 2022 Student Scholar Symposium at Chapman University.