I am in middle school and they don't allow tails; they will be taken away. My question is: how can I find another way of showing my love of being a furry?
Vixen Fox (age 12, Colorado)
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Dear Vixen Fox,
Your very short letter hits on a very touchy subject in Papabear’s eyes: school dress codes. Hope you don’t mind a long reply that gets a little off topic at times.
The purpose of dress codes is to assert authority, uniformity, and control among students in a school. The Education Commission of the States says: “Student appearance ... can be regulated if it is vulgar, indecent, obscene, insulting or if it carries a message that encourages inappropriate behavior." Therefore, it has been seen as reasonable when a school bans clothing that reveals too much skin or promotes violence, drugs, or alcohol use. In a way, I do support this attitude because you are at school to learn, but I think schools go way too far in enforcing it.
Many school districts extend this guideline to mean anything they perceive as potentially disruptive. Because of this, there have been a lot of ridiculous cases where school districts have gone nuts, in my opinion. For example, at one school a girl was suspended for shaving her head in support of cancer patients; another school banned bracelets that said “I [heart] Boobies” in support of breast cancer research. A girl who wore rosary beads because she is Catholic was suspended because gang members in her school also wore them. Absurd. Even more stupid, a school in Oklahoma told one kid he had to turn his shirt inside out because it supported a Michigan university and only shirts promoting Oklahoma schools were allowed.
Oh! I almost forgot: I once had a furry write to me that at her school she wore a furry outfit during a day when the school asked everyone to wear a costume that expressed who they felt they really were. Well, guess what? When she wore her fursuit she was immediately taken to the school counselor’s office and they told her parents she was crazy. In other words, “Wear something that expresses who you truly are, but only if that is a state-approved identity.”
Over the past 20 years or so, parents have been complaining more to schools and school superintendents about these rules, especially when their kids have done nothing wrong. Sometimes this has actually had the effect of changing school policy. Do your parents support your being a furry? If so, you might ask them to go to your school principal and support your wearing a tail. Has your wearing a tail ever caused a “disruption” in school? For instance, did other students start harassing you because of the tail and causing a commotion in the hallways? If so, the principal might argue that the tail is a disruption and that’s why it was banned. Unfortunately, he would probably be backed up by a judge if this went as far as a courtroom. But, if not, and if your parents support you, you might have a chance to get the principal to change his or her mind. If you feel strongly about wearing a tail, this might be worth a shot. To beef up your argument for wearing a tail, you might even say that you are wearing it in support of animal rights or wildlife conservation and that the ban is violating your First Amendment Rights of free speech.
Your being 12, though, it might be a bit much to expect you to make a state or federal case about this. But I would like to pause here and say something to you that you should always keep in mind: education is important, but you must always be conscious of the fact that you are going to a government-run school. Public (and even private) schools are designed for one thing: to turn little children like you into good little citizens, patriots, conformists, and worker bees. Therefore, everything you are being taught is designed to make you believe what you are supposed to believe so that you won’t “rock the boat” or cause trouble for those who run the country and have the power. You can’t just leave school, either. Under the law, you have to attend until you are at least 16. My suggestion to you, therefore, is to explore the world of books outside of school and spend some time educating yourself outside the “approved curriculum” that is shoved down your throat at school. Dress codes are one part of the brain-washing you are currently undergoing. You are also being told to memorize things and then write down those same things on the test, so that you will pass (although I hear no one fails in school now; it’s not allowed), graduate, get a job, pay taxes, and be a good little consumer.
The other thing you learn at school, though, is socialization. This is an important subject to learn because, throughout your life, you will have to deal with other people. So, Papabear further advises you to study your fellow students’ behavior and learn how to interact with them. You will be a happier grown-up if you can socialize well with others, as long as you remember that those others have, for the most part, swallowed the Alice in Wonderland candy and believe that everything they are told is true, even though much of it is actually crazy.
Question everything. EVERYTHING.
That’s why Papabear is proud of you for being a furry at the age of 12. It shows that you can think for yourself by following a path even though most people don’t like the same things you do.
Well, I hope I didn’t bore you with that. Let’s get back to your question :-) which is how to show your love for furry without wearing a tail, and, I assume, ears or anything else like that. Have you tried a furry shirt? Make sure it is one that doesn’t have any signs of sexuality about it. You could, to be safe, wear a shirt from a favorite movie that has furry characters on it, such as Robin Hood, Finding Nemo, or Kung Fu Panda. These are all very furry movies and can help you express yourself in a way that the schools would be clueless about (“Oh, that shirt is okay because it is produced by a multi-million dollar corporation that supports the American way of consumerism”). LOL, sorry if I sound like a communist.
Meanwhile, at home, I hope you are free to express who you are and your parents don’t mind. If that’s the case, I’m very happy for you and I think you should be 200% furry at home (and, yes, I realize that it is impossible to be more than 100% anything).
Again, my apologies for using your question to get some things off of my chest. Thank you so much for writing, and I hope this helps you.
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