WATCH: California Students Swap to Protest Dress Code

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High school students in central California are blurring gender lines in protest of their school district’s enforcement of an old, strict and heteronormative dress code.

According to a report by the Fresno Bee, girls and boys at Clovis, Calif.’s Buchanan High School decided to show up to classes this week wearing clothing that is typically associated with the opposite gender. The switch of gender norms is in direct response to a January 27 vote by Clovis Unified School District trustees that leaves a stringent and already-established dress code in place — one that many critics think is unfair to students who want to express their sexuality and gender identity.

The dress code’s language barred boys from having long hair or wearing earrings, while also implying that dresses and skirts were only for girls, the newspaper reports.

“The reason we switched gender norms for the day was to make the statement that what we wear does not define us as students,” Emma Sledd, a protesting Buchanan student who wore menswear to school, told the Bee. “Our district’s dress code should not favor or discriminate any gender. We believe everyone should be able to express themselves equally. A boy with long hair is no less of a hard worker than a girl with long hair.”

The American Civil Liberties Union is planning to take legal action against CUSD, and according to the Bee, the ACLU has previously done so. A student-run petition urging the school district to implement a more gender-neutral dress code has already garnered 2,750 signatures at press time.

Watch the story unfold in the report from the Fresno Bee below.

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