I remember the prospect of school uniforms being kind of half-debated when I was in school, but I doubt there was ever any serious attempt implement A Standard Attire at ol’ SHS. There was a dress code, of course… mostly it was your usual “don’t wear a Beer shirt to class”, “skirts must be this long” kind of stuff. The common punishment for a T-shirt infraction was to be obliged to wear one’s shirt inside out for the remainder of the day, which I don’t recall happen all that often. It was also the 90s, so I’m sure at some point, someone made a rule somewhere about overly baggy pants being detrimental to academic success, and forbidding the wearing of one’s overalls in a backwards manner. Even in rural Montana, it was common for schools to ban the practice of wearing a handkerchief on one’s head, because gang-rays would penetrate young impressionable brains and turn them into Bloods and/or Crips sleeper agents, waiting to get triggered by subliminal messages from MTV. All of this hit a fever pitch post-Columbine, when a sufficiently iconoclastic Marilyn Manson shirt was grounds for a chat with a police officer. I remember it was a distinct relief to finally graduate and walk around the college campus, where the teachers neither cared what you were wearing, nor did they scrutinize every bottle and bag for concealed alcohol or firearms. I’d hoped the reactionary mania would eventually pass, like the D&D Panic of the 80s, but it’s looking more and more like mass shootings are here to stay, and having the Authority Watch Us For Our Safety is getting more and more standard.

Anyway: banning certain clothes at schools. Maybe it helps? Maybe it doesn’t? My little comic proxy-self presents a “boys will be boys” attitude about it, but my true opinion about it is more nuanced. I do think kids will form clashing cliques regardless of what clothing they’re forbidden to wear. I don’t think there were many sports jerseys being worn by the youth gangs of the Lower East Side circa 1900, when lines were drawn based on what street you lived on, rather than which Licensed Corporate Franchise you supported. Young people will find affiliations, and they’ll clash about whatever differences they can find, because they’re young people. They’re feeling everything for the first time, and they’re in a structure that denies them the ability to affect any change to their own lives, so of course they’re angry and frustrated. Their parents dictate their home lives, and their school dictates everything else. But, there is a psychological benefit to making everyone wear the same polo shirt. Perhaps it wouldn’t change anything, but maybe it would at least make them feel like they’re kind of on the same team, instead of just being consumers of a certain kind of franchise fandom, with all of its pre-packaged rivalries. I guess what I’m saying is that changing the dress code probably won’t work, because I think they’re trying to fix something that can’t be remedied with a shirt. Our schools need to stop being battlegrounds, and I think society is going to have to do something more dramatic to stop the violence than simply depriving the combatants of their choice of attire.