Heart Blaster Petitions to End Discriminatory Rules Against Student Dress Code

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Heart Blaster spearheads new petition to eliminate the discriminatory rules against students wearing sweatpants at Thomas Russell Middle School in Milpitas, CA.

"It feels as if there is a lack of support for the things that truly matter."

Are your sweatpants, joggers, ripped frayed jeans, or a nontraditional color of denim a threat to your peers, self, and education? Or is this discrimination?
Milpitas is one of the largest cities in California. Demographically, 96% of Thomas Russell Middle School students are Asian, 18% of students are Hispanic, 5% are two or more races, 3% are White, and 2% are Black.

Students at the Thomas Russell Middle School in Milpitas, CA, are being sent to detention while wearing sweatpants to school.

One student has shared with us, "she has been sent to detention a total of 3 times this school year" over her sweatpants. Telling us, "they want us to look our age." This statement alone identifies this practice as one of the three types of ageism: institutional ageism, which occurs when an institution perpetuates ageism through its actions and policies; in this case through dress code.

When reading the student dress code handbook, it states terms like "common dress code, appropriate tops, and bottoms." TRMS 22-23 student handbook page 8.

Page 4 of the student handbook identifies discrimination on campus; "committed to providing equal opportunity for all individuals in education, programs, and practices, shall be free from unlawful discrimination, including discrimination against an individual or group based on race, color, ancestry, including discrimination against an individual or group national origin, ethnic group identification, age, religion, marital, pregnancy, or parental status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression, etc."

https://russell.musd.org/parent-education/student-handbook This sounds like a school that understands the importance of individualism, free expression, and nondiscriminatory practices; however, there is a loophole that perpetuates a microaggression when holding all students to one standard for dress code — assuming that all families are equal in socioeconomic status. This dismisses understanding of income, family size, poverty rates, and the family's capacity based on personal and essential factors of health care costs, car issues, relationships, and other variable means that impact families' resources, including school clothes.

We have also been told students have ordered standard P.E. clothes, including sweatpants, for physical education class at the beginning of the school year in August 2022. Now February, 6 months into the school year, they have not received their purchased sweatpants. With freezing morning temperatures as low as 37 degrees in Milpitas, where kids have P.E. first period, they are required to wear P.E. shorts and still cannot wear their sweatpants!

Parents are frustrated and concerned for their kids. Many are expressing, "There are more important things to worry about on school campuses. It feels as if there is a lack of support for things that truly matter, like tutoring and being a positive space where kids feel supported in their education. Instead of being judged and picked on and sent to detention over what they are wearing." We agree.

There are many red flags here.

As stated above, holding an entire population of students to one standard without understanding each family's needs is discriminatory for various reasons.

It disrupts the consistency and positive influence a child needs in their school day to thrive, and for at-risk youth, the impact can be far more significant.

It projects a negative stereotype onto the students. Assuming the identity of a student reflects someone who does not "act their age," behaves "inappropriately," or does not fit the "standard image."

The impact Zero-Tolerance Policies have on children of color has been proven to further result in more severe forms of punishment and discrimination throughout their education, tarnishing students' school records and creating an image of a defiant student and a label on their academic profile.

We are told students are asked to wear loaner pants and change from their personal garments for the day. This can negatively impact a child's self-esteem by causing shame and embarrassment in being singled out in front of their peers. In a time of growth and development for children in middle school, self-confidence, and mental wellness are imperative. At the same time, the district handbook states the importance of mental wellness. The message this sends does not reflect a supportive practice.

Studies show that a teacher's impact is integral to a child's growth and development. A negative result can have long-term effects on a child's education, psychological health, literacy, physical, sleep, academic pressure, appetite, stress, anxiety, etc.

This statement is from theclassroom.com.

"Recent studies found that negative teacher attitudes can impair academic achievement and increase students' psychological disorders and physical symptoms of stress. Teachers who use humiliation or sarcasm can leave a child feeling belittled."

Read the full article.

The Negative Attitudes of Teachers' Impact on Students

Not only is this dress code outdated, but it is discriminatory.

Please support these students. Sign this petition, and share.
As part of the Milpitas School District code of conduct and individual rights, please follow this link; if you are a student or parent and would like to file a formal complaint, obtain, inspect, or amend your child's school records.


Excessive amounts of detention can lead to suspension.


Reports of serious or recurrent behavior patterns. Complaints may be filed with the following office that administers FERPA:

Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Ave. SW
Washington, DC 20202-4605

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Jessica Andrews
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