Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D-Tenn.) is drafting the bill in response to concerns from parents, educators, and principals about visitors who show up to their children’s schools dressed inappropriately.
“They say you’d be surprised at some of the stuff that we see,” Parkinson told WREG.
The lawmaker said to protect the students and the integrity of the institution, a dress code for visitors should be enforced, reported Fox 13. He said the dress code would be part of a larger code of conduct with a goal to prevent parents and other visitors from cursing, fighting, or coming to campus while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
“When these incidents happen, it creates a situation for children to be bullied,” he told the news station.
— The Hill (@thehill) January 23, 2019
In response to a comment on social media, Parkison said, “all schools need a code of expected conduct posted in a prominent place for visitors to be aware of.”
“This is the reason you have adults fighting at the schools, cursing teachers out, wearing sexually suggestive clothes in front of little kids, smelling like ‘loud’ when they show up and more,” he wrote on Jan. 22.
Parkinson added that if the bill passes, the details of the code will be up to each district.
“I visualize clothes that are not sexually suggestive,” he told WREG. “Not wearing things that might encourage or suggest gang activity.”
The proposal is receiving mixed reactions, with some internet users concerned that it could be unconstitutional.
“I agree that adults sometimes choose to wear clothing that is distasteful, but distasteful cannot be synonymic to illegal. You said that all schools need a code of ‘expected’ conduct, but just because something is expected doesn’t mean that we can legally circumvent the freedoms our constitution grants for the sake of the expectation or ‘taste’. What one person or group deems to be socially unacceptable cannot translate to that action or lack thereof being deemed illegal! This is unconstitutional,” one social media user wrote.
“Isn’t the something on the books that addresses public decency? You cannot nor should not attempt to regulate taste,” another user wrote.
Other social media users expressed support for the proposal, with some saying “a needed policy!” and “about time.”
Tennessee lawmaker proposing dress code for parents, others who visit schools, and at least one local board member likes the idea (with video story) https://t.co/FhCmXIIkWZ
— Brad Hughes (@GYMObrad) January 23, 2019
Similarly, back in 2014, a Florida school board member wanted to introduce a rule to police what parents wore during school pickups in the Ft. Lauderdale area.
Dr. Rosalind Osgood, a member of the Broward County school board, was the first person to bring up the issue, saying parents were showing up wearing sagging pants, pajamas and rollers in their hair.
“A lot of time parents have to run to schools real quickly—some still have on their pajamas! They have hair curlers in, it’s just inappropriate,” Osgood told ABC News at the time. “Parents have to lead by example.”
Another concerned school board member, Karen Brill, who is a member of the Palm Beach County School Board, also brought up the issue at a Florida school board meeting but was unable to garner support from other board members, reported Fox News.
Both attempts to introduce a dress code for parents at schools were unsuccessful, despite support from other parents.
The Tennessee bill is expected to be introduced in the upcoming weeks.