Is a school rule requiring girls to wear skirts unconstitutional sex discrimination?
A federal judge in North Carolina thinks so.
U.S. District Judge Malcolm Howard ruled last week that a charter school was engaging in unconstitutional sex discrimination by requiring girls to wear skirts.
The parents sued the school claiming that the dress code forces girls to be colder in the winter and “pay constant attention to the positioning of their legs during class, distracting them from learning, and has led them to avoid certain activities altogether, such as climbing or playing sports during recess, all for fear of exposing their undergarments and being reprimanded by teachers or teased by boys,” the judge said in summarizing the parent’s arguments.
I think he’s right.
My girls, like many other girls attending Catholic, private, or charter schools, can’t wear pants (or shorts) to school.
But before I start railing on a school policy, let me start by saying that I love my girls school. No, truly I do. It’s a traditional Catholic school with strong academics, dedicated teachers, and parents who treat each other like family. My daughters’ inability to wear pants to school is not going to cause me to withdraw them from school or even refrain from strongly recommending the school to other parents.
With that said, it can really suck to wear a skirt all day, every day.
Bare legs are uncomfortable if not dangerous in cold weather. In Dallas we get plenty of winter days with temperatures in the 30(s) and windchills in the 20(s). And off to school my girls go with the wind chafing their bare legs. Yes, my girls could wear tights. But any woman will tell you that tights don’t really keep your legs warm, not to mention the constant tug-of-war required to keep them up all day.
My second grader who is a literal monkey on the monkey bars? She keeps her mad skills in check at school for fear of her jumper flipping up. My basketball obsessed eighth grader? She’s not going to hustle in gym class wearing a skirt the same way she does when she’s wearing shorts.
How hard would you work out if you had to wear a skirt?
Okay what say you readers? Are we holding our girls back by making them wear skirts? Leave a comment or send an e-mail.
Copyright © 2019 by Siobhán Fitzpatrick Kratovil. All Rights Reserved.
Tags: kids, School
Dawn T says
I totally agree. At my daughter’s Catholic school, they wear a similar uniform but thankfully can also wear leggings under the skirt (which nearly all of the girls wear every day until it gets to be in the 90s). I think the handbook technically states that they may only wear the leggings on “extreme weather days” but this is not enforced. As of the last year or two, they can also wear the same uniform shorts as the boys (though not the pants after preschool), which my daughter does occasionally but she is probably one of the only girls in school that takes advantage of this. But they are still stuck in the relatively long skirts for PE. I am happy that that they have modernized the uniforms some but I would like to see better options for PE! PS, I really enjoy reading your blog.
Siobhan Fitzpatrick Kratovil says
Leggings are not allowed at my girls’ school and I have yet to hear a good reason why not. It just kills me to send my girls off to school on really cold days with bare legs. Thank you so much for reading the blog!
Laura Graber says
I think it’s about viewing it as more important for girls to look “feminine” than to be comfortable, modest, or active. I went to catholic school and it was similar. They also, in the 1990’s, had the 8th grade girls sing choir while the 8th grade boys played the stock market game. By high school they didn’t exactly encourage calculus. I have plenty of positive memories of catholic school too, but I think the skirt thing is really a canary in the coal mine regarding sexism. I’ll probably send my own daughter to public.
It’s a stupid, sexist left over from the past and needs to go away. How far would requiring boys to wear shorts, year round?!
I think that if we decided to enroll a child in a certain school we must agree with rules and regulations of the institution, if I don’t like it I have the right to put them somewhere else, my daughter has the option to wear legging under her skirt and she choose not to, not bcz she likes skirts but bcz of looks. They have a PE uniform same for both male and female, but people always find a reason to complain.