Even without us seeking them out, stories of sexist dress codes flood our feeds on a regular basis. There’s the high school student who was sent home for wearing a long-sleeved dress to class. There’s the Texas boy who was suspended because he dared wear make-up to school. Recently, a 13 year old was sent to the principal’s office because her baggy sweater was too “distracting.”
While all of these example are infuriating, one federal judge in North Carolina is doing his part by helping girls wear comfortable clothes to school. U.S. District Judge Malcolm Harris recently ruled that requiring girls to wear skirts to class is unconstitutional because it forces girls to “suffer a burden” that their male counterparts do not. His reasoning? The constitution’s equal protection clause.
“The plaintiffs in this case have shown that the girls are subject to a specific clothing requirement that renders them unable to play as freely during recess, requires them to sit in an uncomfortable manner in the classroom, causes them to be overly focused on how they are sitting, distracts them from learning, and subjects them to cold temperatures on their legs and/or uncomfortable layers of leggings under their knee-length skirts in order to stay warm, especially moving outside between classrooms at the school,” he wrote in his ruling.
According to BuzzFeed, the lawsuit against Charter Day School in Leland was originally filed by the ACLU on behalf of three students with ages ranging from 5 to 14.
“My friends and I got more than 100 signatures on our petition,” Keely Burks, one of those students, wrote on the ACLU’s website, “but it was taken from us by a teacher and we never got it back. Some parents asked about changing the policy, but the school said that making girls wear skirts is supposed to promote ‘chivalry’ and ‘traditional values.'”
Fortunately, the courts stepped in. We hope that this ruling sets an important precedent that kids should be allowed to learn, full stop, without being sexualized or embarrassed for their clothing.