Douglas Anderson students protest school district’s dress code

Student activists say they want to be comfortable and they want everyone to be treated fairly

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Douglas Anderson School of the Arts students on Thursday staged a protest of the school district’s dress code and how it’s enforced.

Many wore signs with phrases like “stop sexualizing minors.”

News4Jax spoke with the Douglas Anderson student who organized the demonstration. The student, who asked not to be identified, said the conservation about the dress code started weeks ago.

“One of my friends, they were, like, ‘Why don’t we try to change the dress code?’” the student said. “Because everybody, most of my peers anyways, agree that it sexualizes young women and minors, children.”

A post was published on social media, calling for students to wear an outfit that breaches the dress code on Thursday.

“I saw the post, and then everybody, I guess, started sharing it,” said Douglas Anderson student Ausialyn Koehler. “So a lot of people at my school participated in it, and we just wore, kind of like, messages and stuff.”

The issue, the students say, is that the dress code bans clothes that are deemed too “form-fitting” or “distractive” -- subjective terms that they say are not enforced equally across all body types.

“Because it’s not consistently enforced, and it’s not fair. It’s outdated,” said the student who did not wish to be named. “We want to be able to dress comfortably and express ourselves the way that we are.”

The students also say the dress code prevents them from wearing clothes that would make warm Florida days more bearable.

“I feel like they should change it a bit, just so we can have, like, shirts that are thinner, especially living in Florida with it being so hot,” Koehler said.

The other student said: “It’s not fair that we have to wear such restrictive clothing in Florida, where it’s always hot.”

News4Jax was told school staff issued a lot of dress code violations Thursday.

News4Jax asked the school district for more information on the situation but had not received a response as of publication.

In St. Johns County, the school district’s dress code policy has been the source of controversy for months, as well as the subject of a federal investigation. Earlier this month, the St. Johns County School Board approved new dress code rules, including changes to the district’s policy about the length of students’ shorts.

About the Author:

Joe covers education and breaking news. He is a frequent contributor to the News4Jax I-team and Trust Index coverage.