Should Teens Be Allowed to Wear Whatever They Want?

One of the best (or tricky) parts of being an adolescent and navigating those hormonal teenage years, is discovering your own style along with your likes and dislikes. Even I can recall my different phases through those formative years ranging from wearing pink with girly make-up choices to my all-black emo days where only punk rock music was good music. As an adult, I still carry those different identities molded together into one, making me the well-rounded person that I like to think I am today.

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School Dress Codes Have Always Been a Hot-Button Issue

Even though I was lucky enough to attend a middle and high school where we were allowed to wear whatever we liked within reason, we still had to make sure our style explorations adhered to the dress code.  Other schools choose to further simplify this process by requiring everyone to wear uniforms, avoiding any question of what is appropriate or not. The topic of whether schools should be able to decide how students dress is one that has sparked debate plenty of times.

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What is Indiana Bill SB 380?

The enforcement of school dress codes is no stranger to controversy. School administrations with non-uniform clothing policies, often amend dress codes to keep up with current trends. Some Indiana lawmakers hope to reinforce schools' rights to enforce a dress code in order to address the concern about students dressing up as furries.

The proposed bill, SB 380, mainly covers how the state figures high school graduation rates, but also includes a line that reads, "a school corporation may adopt a policy concerning student dress code or disruptive behavior." Senator Jeff Raatz who wrote the bill said the line was to settle concern over students who "may be imitating or were behaving like a furry.”

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What is a "Furry?"

According to FurScience, a public information website dedicated to the research of furries, they are people who "create an anthropomorphized animal character with whom they identify and can function as an avatar." This may include full animal costumes or more modest attire such as animal ears or tails.

Their research shows that 75% of furries are teenagers and young adults. However, despite many negative stigmas that the "Furdom" community faces, there is more involved in being a furry than just wearing a headband with cat ears. Not every teenage accessory resembling animal traits mean that they identify as a furry.

Setting the Record Straight-Are Furries and Litterboxes a Problem in Indiana Schools?

According to the IndyStar, there is no supporting evidence of Indiana schools reporting that students are dressing up as animals. In fact, some Indiana educators have spoken out, hoping to put an end to the rumors.

Kim Patterson, a middle school teacher from Howard County said, "The only 'furry' kids I see are high school boys who don't shave."

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Some feel the increase in rumors of children identifying as furries is due to national media coverage. However, these rumors have yet to be proven by evidence.

"We have not had disruptions that I am aware of with students acting out as 'furries,'" said Emily Pace Abbotts, a spokesperson for Hamilton Southeastern Schools. "This overall issue, I believe stemmed from national media, which also spread that schools had litter boxes in their restrooms. This is not true for Hamilton Southeastern Schools – and is worrisome that people would believe such."

What About Furries in Evansville Schools?

Just last fall, the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation made its own statement to combat rumors of students dressing as animals and using litter boxes.

Courier and Press reported that the topic was addressed on the district's social media outlets after rumors raised concern.

"It's unfortunate that schools around the nation are needing to waste valuable time to address such ridiculous rumors," said Jason Woebkenberg, EVSC spokesman.

What's Next for SB 380?

The bill will head to the Senate's education committee for a vote next week. If it passes, as expected, it will move on to a vote by the whole Senate.
Read More: 30 Bizarre and Real Indiana High School Mascot Names

Books that Have Recently Been Challenged in School Systems Across the US

Across the country, legislators and school administrators are seeing a spike in efforts to prohibit certain materials from being available in libraries. As a result, books that explore topics such as race, gender, sexual orientation, and other social issues are being targeted. The American Library Association received over 330 reports in the last year alone, containing multiple books that are being challenged all over the U.S.

Check out the following gallery to see some of the books that are currently in hot seats across the country.

Click on the below links to read an additional synopsis of each book. *As Amazon associates we earn on qualifying purchases.

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