A 15-year-old Muslim girl was barred from attending class at a school in Charleville-Mezieres, France, earlier this month because her long skirt was deemed too religious, and now the international community is responding with outrage on Twitter. School officials have reportedly backed the head teacher’s decision to ban the student from class, saying in a statement that the skirt was a “provocation,” according to AFP. In 2004, France passed a law that prohibits students from wearing religious symbols in schools.
Many are expressing criticism on Twitter using the hashtag #JePorteMaJupeCommeJeVeux, which translates to ‘I wear my skirt as I please.’ At a time when maxi-skirts are commonplace on Paris fashion runways, and dress codes usually dictate that girls cover up more skin rather than less, the move is being called Islamophobic, discriminatory, and sexist.
Does religious clothing have a place in schools? The issue continues to spark controversy for countries like France and the US, blurring lines between freedom of expression and separation of church and state. While France’s rule on hijabs and long skirts attempts to preserve secularism, the US government treats the issue differently. In 2004, the federal government intervened in support of a Muslim student who had been suspended twice for wearing her hijab to an Oklahoma public school.
Dress codes in public schools have become a hot-button issue in the US and are often criticized for focusing on girls. Just last week, a dumbfounded father spoke out about his daughter’s kindergarten forcing her to cover up her shoulders. And last year, students took to Twitter with the hashtag #iammorethanadistraction.