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Portland Public School's new dress code a relief as students head back to class

Sophia Carlson (left) stands with her mother, Rachel, and discusses Portland Public Schools' new dress code that is gender neutral. The outfit that she is wearing would have violated the district's dress code under the old rules, but it's OK now. (KATU Photo)

PORTLAND, Ore. – As kids prepare to head back to school, some of them aren’t very happy about what they can and cannot wear.

But Portland Public School students don’t have much to complain about.

“This is a pretty normal outfit, but it might have caused a little bit of trouble,” said Sophia Carlson, a Grant High School sophomore.

It’s been one year since PPS adopted its new dress code and Sophia Carlson is still relishing the change.

“It's been really great not have to constantly worry about what I'm wearing or if I need to change or if I get sent home,” Carlson said.

Carlson testified before the school board about how the old rules unfairly targeted girls.

“It would happen in front of teachers, kids; you'd get pulled out of class or stopped in the hallway in front of your friends,” Carlson said.

The new dress code is gender neutral and students can wear almost anything they want as long as there’s no hate speech or anything that reveals private parts.

Students are much happier and PPS said that makes a difference in the classroom.

“People had to come to school sometimes wondering if what they were wearing was appropriate or if they were going to be told 'No. You've got to go change,’” said Dave Northfield, PPS spokesperson. “And a lot of it did have to do with gender.”

Students in other districts and across the country are pushing for the same changes, using #Imnotadistraction to draw attention to what they consider sexist dress code violations.

“I definitely think it's worth it. I think it should come from the students and I think it's really empowering as a young female to make this change,” Carlson said.

RELATED | Portland Public Schools students return to new dress code

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