Antonio Parkinson wants every school to have a "code of conduct" that establishes what's appropriate behavior for adults visiting campus.

By Rebecca Macatee
January 24, 2019
dress code for adults
Credit: Dmytro Zinkevych/Shutterstock

January 24, 2019

School dress codes are nothing new, but we usually think of them as being just for students. One lawmaker in Tennessee thinks some school districts might need to change that, though, and he's suggesting a bill with the potential to regulate what parents wear (or don't wear) on school grounds.

Antonio Parkinson, a Democratic member of the Tennessee House of Representatives, has a new proposal that would require every school district to come up with a code of conduct for adults visiting the campus. This could include a dress code for parents—but only if the school district thinks it's necessary.

"We're not going to write anything into the policy," Parkinson said during an appearance on Fox & Friends. "All I'm doing in the bill is asking every school district to come up with a baseline code of conduct for anyone that steps on a school campus. And that means anyone—that could be a parent, a student, the teachers, vendors, speakers, visitors—anyone."

The school districts might choose to include a parental dress code in their code of conduct, but it's not a requirement. As Parkinson acknowledged, "A lot of media outlets have pulled out the dress code part of it—which may be included in the code of conduct, or it may not if that's not a need for the district."

Parkinson said he's seen firsthand that some school districts do need to set some guidelines for what's appropriate adult behavior on school grounds. "I had an elementary school principal tell me that someone came onto the campus, came into the office and still had their sleepwear on, but when I say their sleepwear, it was lingerie and their body parts were exposed," he told Nashville's News Channel 5.

"I had another one tell me about someone coming in smelling like drugs," he said.

Ultimately, though, the Tennessee representative is suggesting school boards create their own set of rules and the districts decide how to enforce them. He told Fox & Friends that the response to this proposal has been "overwhelmingly positive."

"I had a couple expletives thrown at me, saying 'You're not going to tell me what to wear,'" he said. "But it's been overwhelmingly positive. The negative part has only been people saying it shouldn't be me bringing it. Well, if not me, then who?"

Let's hope that any parental dress codes that are created as a result of Parkinson's bill are inclusive and non-discriminatory. Because the kids aren't necessarily always looking at what the grownups are wearing, but they are noticing how we behave.