A Houston high school’s strict dress code policy for parents has drawn accusations of classism and elitism from the public.
ABC13 Houston reports the dress code for Madison High School came under fire this week after a parent wearing a silk bonnet was nearly prevented from picking up her son who broke his arm.
The dress code was reportedly put into effect in early April after another parent attempted to enroll her son into the school. Joselyn Lewis told reporters she got into a confrontation with administrators after she wasn’t allowed on school grounds for wearing a scarf. “She said that my headscarf was out of dress code and my dress was too short,” Lewis said. She also questioned the root of the dress code and how it would affect those who wear headpieces for religious or spiritual reasons. “Who are you to say that I can’t wear my hair up? In a scarf? Who are you to tell me how to dress?” she asked.
But the dress code was highlighted again when Rosemary Young attempted to pick up her son Tuesday (April 23). Because of her silk bonnet, Young was given the paper handout of the dress code before she was able to see her son. “If we come here belligerent, out of control, things of that nature, that’s what you have the police for,” she told ABC13 Houston. “But what I wear should never be an issue.”
Madison High School principal Carlotta Outley Brown has stayed committed to the dress code. “We are preparing your child for a prosperous future,” Brown wrote in the letter to parents on April 9. “We want them to know what is appropriate and what is not appropriate for any setting they might be in.”
The pieces and accessories banned for parents include leggings, baggy clothing, scarfs, shower caps, silk bonnets, pajamas of any kind, hair rollers and other presumed revealing clothing. Many have deemed Brown’s (who is black) dress code as elitist. Madison High is a predominantly Black and Hispanic school with residents from a lower income community, leaving parents confused about the actual message being sent in the dress code.
“I’m almost insulted,” Tomiko Miller, the mother of a current student, told the Houston Chronicle. “I really think it was discriminatory, the language that was used. It was demeaning. And I’m African American — and if it’s misty outside and I have a hair bonnet on, I don’t see how that’s anyone’s business.”
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal Wednesday (April 24), Brown clarified the dress code reflects past incidents where “parents were coming in risque clothes.”
Read the dress code in full below along with reactions from social media below.
On today a high school in Houston, TX set this dress code for PARENTS. The other photo is the Principal who set the new rules. Reminder you can be Black and still create, write, enact & enforce anti-Black policies. nothing going wrong in that school has any connection to bonnets. pic.twitter.com/nHhChVp39f
— Leslie Mac (@LeslieMac) April 24, 2019
Please look professional when you come to this school to pick your child up we just fed them chicken nuggets made out of yoga mats for lunch show some respect
— America is musty 2021 (@DragonflyJonez) April 24, 2019
“Please be professional when you come to pick up your child that went the first 2 weeks of school without a textbook, and has been sharing the one she has since then. We are an educational institution.”
— Demar DeFrozan (@dj81ent) April 24, 2019