‘Traditional values’

Three girls took their school’s mandatory skirt policy to court — and won

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Following a lawsuit from three female students, a North Carolina public school that had mandated girls wear skirts to preserve “traditional values” will have to allow them to wear pants or shorts instead.

Bonnie Peltier, the mother of one of the girls who sued Charter Day School in North Carolina, told the Washington Post that that she contacted the ACLU after Baker Mitchell, the founder of the Roger Bacon Academy, which runs the school, gave her a condescending lecture about archaic gender norms.

In an email to Peltier, Mitchell said that the policy was meant to “preserve chivalry and respect among young women and men” in order to prevent “teen pregnancies” and “casual sex.” By forcing girls to wear skirts, Mitchell suggested, the school was creating an environment that “embodied traditional values.”

“We’re having to tell our daughters, even though this is what they’re teaching you, this is not the way the world works anymore,” Peltier explained to HuffPost.

A ruling from U.S. District Judge Malcolm Howard sided with Peltier’s daughter and two other girls who filed a legal challenge against the dress code through the ACLU. He ruled that the school had violated the Constitution’s equal protection clause by treating girls differently from boys, and that the school’s claim that “taking away the ‘visual cues’ of the skirts requirement would hinder respect between the two sexes” had no evident basis in reality.

The skirt requirement, he added, forced girls to “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.”

One of the plaintiffs in the case, now a seventh-grader at Charter Day School, said she was overjoyed by the decision — especially since she personally never chose to wear skirts or dresses outside of school.

“You can really do more in pants than you can in skirts,” she told the Post. “I’m just so happy.”

Read the full story at the Washington Post.

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