State lawmaker’s bill requires school dress codes for parents: ‘Who gets to define what’s inappropriate?’


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A Tennessee lawmaker seeks to implement a law that would force parents and other visitors to schools in his state to follow the same dress and conduct codes as students. As bizarre as the proposed law sounds, it makes perfect sense to state Rep. Antonio Parkinson given what he’s heard.

“I’ve heard some concerns from principals. They say you’d be surprised at some of the stuff that we see,” he said to Memphis news station WREG this week, adding that parents show up to their kids’  schools dressed quite inappropriately and sometimes even partially naked.

“I visualize clothes that are not sexually suggestive — not wearing things that might encourage or suggest gang activity,” the Memphis lawmaker added, describing his seemingly sensible proposal.


“Parkinson’s bill would require the code of conduct to be posted at every school entrance and given to parents every year when their children register for classes,” WREG’s Andrew Ellison noted.

The dress codes mentioned by Parkinson would be part of a larger package of rules designed to force parents to, well, act their age and not, you know, curse, fight or show up to school inebriated.

And yes, parents across the country — including in Tennessee — have been known to sometimes show up to their kids’ school drunk. So have teachers and even substitute teachers.

Case in point:

Locals seem to approve of Parkinson’s idea.

“That makes a lot of sense. You’re setting an example, so you’re being right and then they gonna be right,” one local man said to WREG, though if it’s unclear if he’s a parent.

But the reaction on social media appears to be vastly different, with a large number of Twitter users expressing disgust over the bill and accusing Parkinson of trying to control their lives.


While supporters of Parkinson’s idea could argue that he’s just trying to ensure that parents act and dress like mature adults while on campus, others worry about his use of the term “inappropriate.”

“Who gets to define what’s inappropriate?” is their chief concern:

It’s a valid argument given the similar debate over so-called “hate speech.” Consider that to the far-left, anyone expressing support for President Donald Trump’s policies is guilty of spewing “hate speech.”

Yet the argument could be made that not all interpretations of dress or speech are this subjective. Is there any doubt that someone who says “kill all the white people” is spewing hate speech? Is there likewise any doubt that showing up to a school naked or in a bikini is just wrong?

Back in 2014 the county discussed implementing its own dress code for parents. It’s unclear whether those dress codes were ever implemented.

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Vivek Saxena


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