South Dakota high school cross-country runner protests athlete dress code

A high school student in South Dakota high is making a case against his school’s dress code policies for student athletes, arguing that they should not be forced to wear shirts.

On the evening of Oct. 8, Will Howes of Lincoln High School went before the Sioux Falls School District school board to protest what he claims is an unfair rule, mandating that students wear a shirt during athletic practices, the Argus Leader reports.

On the evening of Oct. 8, Will Howes of Lincoln High School went before the Sioux Falls School District school board to protest what he claims is a recently enforced and unfair rule.

On the evening of Oct. 8, Will Howes of Lincoln High School went before the Sioux Falls School District school board to protest what he claims is a recently enforced and unfair rule. (Google Maps)

Howes, who has run cross-country at Lincoln High for the past three years, said that students have the right to "take ownership over their own bodies."

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"It claims there is a definite relationship between how a student dresses and their academic ability, which is often used as a justification for discriminatory dress code," Howes said at the meeting. "By setting this as a reason why athletes must wear shirts during practice, it implies something that is just not true."

According to the Leader, the dress code policy for sports practices detail that both male and female students must wear shirts.

"Because there is a definite relationship between appropriate dress, good work habits, and proper school behavior, SFSD Athletics has developed this practice," the rule states, as per the Leader. "The overall goal of the dress code is to not disrupt the educational environment."

Meanwhile, Sioux Falls School District spokeswoman Carly Uthe told the outlet that there is nothing new about the enforcement of the rule at the district’s three high schools, and that the policy has always been in place.

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As the politics of policing bodies through dress code rules and regulations has become a sensitive topic for many in the #MeToo era, news of Howes’ crusade was met with mixed reactions on social media.

“Its school dress code. Dont want to abide by it go to a different school or be home schooled,” one Facebook critic clapped of his efforts.

“If everyone is supposed to wear a shirt how is that discriminating? There have been school dress codes for a long time,” another agreed.

“The no-shirt rule is enforced inconsistently (football and basketball have often been allowed to take shirts off). I think it's great that student leaders like this are standing up for their beliefs,” a supporter chimed in.

"Life's not fair," another commenter simply stated.