Mike O’Hare thinks that formal school rules against clothing that is a direct affront to another student is a bad idea, because it is superior to regulate in this area through social norms, criticism and stigma. I think there’s a lot to this, but…Perhaps I’m old fashioned, or because my greatest contact with K-12 schools has been with those dealing with very poor, inner-city children. But I think one important issue here is the value of any expression like this in schools. One way to liquidate the problem that Mike and Mark are talking about is just to have a school uniform–that is, to eliminate all communication on student clothing. I think there are a lot of places where uniforms are used to conceal the fact that school authorities don’t actually know anything substantive to do to improve school performance. But at the school I know best, the Amistad School in New Haven, they seem to add to school performance by simply eliminating unnecessary distractions (like whether the kid next to you is wearing “Bong Hits for Jesus”). Where most schools are gigantic distraction machines, Amistad does all it can (including having uniforms) to keep its students from losing focus on the key academic and character-building function of schools. So—there may be contexts in which deliberation through personal attire may be valuable, but that the value of it in K-12 schools is, at best neutral, and probably negative. Get rid of it altogether.