Anna Katz

2024 - ATLANTA

Anna Katz is a junior at Lakeside High School in Atlanta, Georgia, where she founded and led a group aimed at changing the student dress code in Dekalb County. The group began in 2022 after Anna was pulled out of class for having ripped jeans that exposed her knees. As she stood in line watching classmates being shamed by administrators and missing class due to dress coding, she realized this issue needed to be addressed. Anna assembled a group of like-minded students with a goal of creating a new equitable dress code proposal. Data analyzed by the group showed students of color were almost three times more likely to be dress coded than their white classmates. Additionally, students of color shared stories of body shaming and being singled out by administrators, creating an atmosphere of fear and mistrust. With this information, the group created a proposal to remove biased language from the dress code and establish guidelines for objective enforcement. They met with county leaders, including the superintendent, who showed understanding but took little action. The group then published an op-ed in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and received coverage from five other local news outlets. At a school board meeting, the group publicly proposed their updated dress code through a series of speeches and it was adopted for the 2023-2024 school year, impacting more than 92,000 students in Dekalb County, of which more than 82,000 are students of color. The changes have received an overwhelmingly positive response.