Do not suppress what hats express

Tom Tom Staff Editorial

Picture this. You are wearing your father’s lucky hat in his honor. Suddenly, a dean sees you wearing it and tells you to take it off.  That hat was the last thing you had to remember him by and wearing it is a source of comfort for you as you brave the perils of public high school. 

The point is, people like hats. They are keepsakes, artifacts, comfort objects, or just cool looking. Bellevue Public Schools does not allow hats for the general student population. But they should! Students aren’t trying to be disrespectful, or just merely following the latest trend. Wearing a hat is a personal statement about the wearer itself.  We should be allowed to wear hats.

Starting off, we have found a few reasons hats are discouraged by the school and district. According to the dress code section of the student handbook on head wear, it states: “Limited head wear keeps our school safe by assisting school officials in identifying students. Hoods and hats (including stocking caps) shall be removed upon entry into the school building and remain off at all times while inside the building. Headwear worn for cultural or religious purposes will be allowed.” 

After discussing the issue with the deans office, we have learned that the reason for the no-hat rule is if a student is acting suspiciously, they will need to be identified.  A few of the real concerns that the deans have are incidents that potentially may involve theft, drugs, or violence.

 In this we understand that students do need to be identifiable in times of potential crisis, and if that is the case teachers should absolutely be able to order students to remove their headgear.

The religious and cultural  exceptions to the rule indicate that hats for other reasons should also be allowed. Just because someone wants to wear the hat to express their individuality, doesn’t make it any less valid than a person wanting to wear it for religious or cultural reasons. 

At one time in history, wearing a hat indoors was taken as a sign of disrespect. This was also a time when girls were not allowed to wear pants to school. While being forced to wear skirts and dresses constantly sounds nice, it was (what we know now to be) unnecessarily restrictive. Today, the idea of forcing girls to wear dresses in public schools sounds ridiculous. We believe the same to be true regarding the wearing of headgear indoors. 

With most headgear, the students’ faces can be seen clearly. It is understandable that if a student’s face is obscured, then  the hat should be removed. However, we don’t believe there is any true justification for the no-hat rule in general.

Students wear hats as mementos, comfort objects, ways to hide a lack of inspiration for fixing their hair, and many more things, including religious, and cultural reasons – as well as a form of self expression. 

Simply put, the reasons for disallowing hats for students are irrelevant, and outdated, and we as a staff believe that students should have the right to wear whatever headgear they choose, as long as it is inoffensive and the face can be seen clearly. There are bigger problems to face in our school, and if allowing a student to wear a hat makes students comfortable, then the school should allow it.