All students, whether transgender or cisgender, must be allowed to wear clothing consistent with their gender identity and expression.
While public schools are allowed to have dress codes and uniform policies, they cannot discriminate against certain students or censor student expression. That means while dress codes may specify types of attire that are acceptable, these requirements may not differ based on students’ gender, race, religion, or other protected characteristics.
Under federal laws protecting against discrimination in education, public schools cannot enforce a dress code based on gender stereotypes about appropriate dress or appearance. For example, a school cannot require girls, and only girls, to wear skirts or dresses, or require boys, but not girls, to wear short hair. This also applies for special events and occasions like dances, graduation, and yearbook pictures. For example, while a school can require “formal attire” to be worn at prom, it may not require that girls, and only girls, wear gowns – or that boys, and only boys, wear suits.
Dress codes that are unevenly enforced against trans and nonbinary students may violate laws prohibiting discrimination.