English School Mandates Trousers for All Students

The rationales: avoiding short skirts, and making things easier for transgender students.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

BBC reports:

Priory School in Lewes, East Sussex, made trousers compulsory for new and existing students for the new term.

The school said "concerns" had been raised over the length of girls' skirts and new rules also catered for a handful of transgender pupils.

As best I can tell, the school is a government-funded school that's something like what some American states call a "charter school"; despite the name, it doesn't seem to be a religious school or what Americans would call a private school.

Unisex uniform policies are of course not unheard of, for instance in police departments or in the military. Pants are sometimes required for safety reasons; and, more broadly, rigid uniform requirements are sometimes imposed in paramilitary organizations (such as the police) for "morale and esprit de corps, and public confidence." But my sense is that such requirements are on balance fairly unusual, even in institutions (such as schools) that have uniforms. And I think they're hard to justify when there's no real safety need, and when they're not a condition of a government paycheck needed to improve the employee's effectiveness.

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  1. Next tech revolution will up-pants cameras, with auto-zoom and narrowly focused flashes (pun not intended, I swear!).

  2. “The school said “concerns” had been raised over the length of girls’ skirts and new rules also catered for a handful of transgender pupils.”

    Transgender is the mental health profession’s diagnosis de jour. A psuedo diagnosis promoted by activists. False diagnosis in the pursuit of an agenda causing permanent harm to the patient.

    1. That’s a suede common there, bub. Or is it a pseudo comment? Well, it’s nothing this comment can’t have some fun with.

      1. Another knee-jerk ‘trans bad’ comment saved by Su-Sussudio

  3. Why not require skirts for all? During the cold time of they year leggings could be warn.

  4. Seeing how countries that require uniforms have fetishized them and the schoolgirls that wear them (looking at you, Japan), I can’t say I blame them.

    1. Parents dress kids cute. Pervs perv on it. Let’s ugly and un-cute the kids.

      Planet no longer deserves existence.

      1. Well no, the whole point of a uniform is that the parents and kids have nothing to do with dressing them “cute.” The kids themselves aren’t made any uglier by dressing in pants and it doesn’t have any effect on what they wear outside of class.

        I know a way you could ensure the planet no longer exists. From a certain point of view.

  5. I wonder if people will get tired of changing things to facilitate the comfort of 0.01% of the population and we will finally put an end this idea that regular people don’t matter?

    1. I think the number of Americans who claim their bigotry is religion-based is greater than 0.01%, but I appreciate your sentiment.

      1. Pathetic leftist doesn’t count Team Blue’s bogus religions.

        1. Knock it off. When he thinks he’s getting inside your head, it just encourages him.

    2. Ben,
      I agree with you 100%.

  6. The girls figure out how to subvert these rules and sexualize the uniforms in 3-2-1 . . . .

    1. I remember my time in AF tech school. There was one young woman (but just one) who made a fatigue work uniform look good.

  7. The good old everybody has to suffer because of a few whiny babies prog mentality.

    1. How does your ostensible dislike of snowflakery handle a claim that society must provide special privilege to bigots who hide behind religious claims?

      1. Like I said several times before I am for zero preference for any religion in government. All religions should be stripped of their privilege especially the Progressive Religion which parasitizes gubmint support on a far greater scale than its rivals, to the tune of tens to hundreds of billions a year in grants, funding of their brainwashing centers, dirty laundered union money etc etc direct from public coffers.

        Having said that, christians, atheists, and progs and any other group should/(and are to some extent in America) free to start schools teaching their own thinking on their own dime. But that is quite different from the government funded gender theory brainwashing we have here. Just proves my first point. Progressivism is the new state religion.

      2. Rev. Arthur Kirkland, I usually ignore your posts but will make an exception and reply to the question you just asked.

        I don’t think society has any obligation to accommodate you.

        1. You will accommodate me by being replaced.

          Thank you in advance for improve America by departing its electorate.

          1. Fuck off, slaver. Go die in a fire like you wish everyone not on your side would do.

    2. If wearing pants makes folks “suffer”, then you have bigger problems.

  8. And I think they’re hard to justify when there’s no real safety need

    Isn’t it hard to justify gender specific uniforms? What do those accomplish?

    1. I agree that it’s hard to justify forcing girls to wear skirts; if they want to wear pants, I think that should be fine. (Likewise if boys want to wear skirts, though few do.) But my sense is that many women and girls in England much prefer to wear skirts or dresses instead of pants, and I don’t see why schools should block them from doing so.

      That’s so even accepting the theory that schoolchildren learn better when their clothing is constrained by a uniform policy. I’m agnostic on that subject, but I don’t think that switching to pants-for-everyone instead of a dress code that allows either pants or skirts is likely to improve learning — all it will do is needlessly impose on girls who would rather wear skirts.

      1. This comment was enlightening, thank you. I was a bit confused as to why you’d disapprove, really, but if your argument is simply for more choice rather than less, instead of the gendered but no choice argument I had thought you were making, it makes a lot more sense to me.

      2. “I don’t see why schools should block them from doing so (wearing skirts)”

        You’d have to buy into the theory that having school uniforms helps to minimize distractions related to students clothing and the choices they make. It seems pretty clear that there were a number of distracted students with…creative alterations…to the new policy.

        A uniform policy that is uniform between the genders I don’t necessarily have a problem with.

      3. I don’t see why girls’ desire to wear skirts rather than pants is worth countenancing, while other students’ desire to wear non-uniform clothing is not.

        In other words, your assertion that, “it is hard to justify a pants-only dress code vis-a-vis a dress code permitting both skirts and pants, because some girls like wearing skirts,” takes for granted that skirts are somehow more obviously “within scope” for any given dress code than other variances. But that’s just importing an unexamined heteronormative bias. A pants-only dress code makes as much sense as a pants-and-skirts dress code, which makes just as much sense as a “blue clothing only” dress code, etc.

        1. That’s like saying that you don’t see why employees’ desire to take off Christmas Day is entitled to more deference than their desire to take off for Succoth. Very principled of you, but as an employer, unless you have a business in Kiryas Joel, you will encounter strenuous resistance to making everyone work on Christmas, whereas very few people will object to working on Succoth.

      4. ” many women and girls in England much prefer to wear skirts or dresses instead of pants, and I don’t see why schools should block them from doing so.”

        The question of “wear a uniform” or “wear whatever you want” is one that is already resolved for most English schools, isn’t it? My (American) kid didn’t have a uniform, except in the band.

      5. The Salem/Keizer public schools, up here in Salem, OR, just put through a change of dress code. Practically speaking, it affected only girls, who are now allowed to wear almost invisible miniskirts, jeans with large, strategically-placed rips in them, &c. I think bra straps showing and bare midriffs are also now OK. The main restrictions on boys were already there; they’re basically bans on particular numbers symbolic of gangs or drug use (e.g., “420”). Large-brimmed hats are also out, for both sexes; this is to make sure the kids can be identified on security cameras (all of which are mounted at ceiling level).

        All of the kids protesting the old dress code, and all of those praising the new one, in the local paper were girls. They had some sort of point, in that a few teachers made a point of “calling out” girls for bra straps, rips, &c., but for the most part the complaint was that the rules stifled their special, unique, incomparable personalities.

        Now, to me this is just silly. If you are convinced of the radical perfection of your personality, there are a gazillion ways to display it other than by what you wear, starting with what you do. Make something. Write something. Compose something. Be creative. Tackle assignments in new and unexpected ways. Don’t for heaven’s sake, make what you are wholly dependent on what your parents can afford to spend on your clothing, and be aware that there are other fashion choices out there besides “tween slut.”

      6. “all it will do is needlessly impose on girls who would rather wear skirts.”

        Should we be equally solicitous of the girls who’d rather be at the mall than at school? Or, you know, wherever girls of this generation would rather be than in school.

    2. The pervs know which 50% of the students to leave alone.

  9. It is against some religious beliefs for females to wear trousers. Orthodox Jewish schools usually forbid it, and some Traditional Catholics discourage it. In the US, a public school that forbade girls from wearing skirts could find itself sued for religious discrimination.

    Here’s the dress code from the high school my son attended, SAR in the Bronx. (Tzitzit are ritual woolen fringes worn at the corners of a rectangular undergarment or on a prayer shawl (just by males in Orthodox Judaism).)

    Dress Code
    Students should dress modestly in a fashion that reflects the values of our Yeshiva. Boys must wear shirts with collars. Tzitzit must be worn at all times. Sweat pants, track pants, blue jeans, T-shirts, and shorts are not permitted. Girls must wear skirts that cover the knees; front slits are not permitted. Shirts must cover the midriff at all times and may not be see-through, tight or lowcut. Short sleeves are permitted, but cap sleeves are not. Sneakers are permitted for both boys and girls and are required to be worn during gym. Girls must wear sweat pants or knee-length basketball shorts during gym class. Leggings are not permitted.

    1. “It is against some religious beliefs for females to wear trousers. Orthodox Jewish schools usually forbid it, and some Traditional Catholics discourage it. In the US, a public school that forbade girls from wearing skirts could find itself sued for religious discrimination.”

      Sounds like a battle of the snowflakes, with ostensible principles likely the first casualty.

      1. And RAK once again proves that he’s far and away the most bigoted poster on this thread.

        1. The poster boy for ignorance and bigotry, even.

      2. “Sounds like a battle of the snowflakes, with ostensible principles likely the first casualty.”

        Yup. Arthur hates the idea the women might choose what clothes to wear, or whose balls to wax.

    2. While I am not familiar with any ostensible religious basis for the dress conventions of Orthodox Jews, there is certainly nothing in the Catholic dogma that forbids women from wearing trousers. I think you might be overstating your case here.

      1. I suspect that religious objections would come up among groups based less on actual religion, and more on just who is seen as imposing dress restrictions on the kids.

      2. You are saying that Deut. 22.5 does not apply to Christians? Can you give me a cite for that proposition?
        (Please don’t do the moronic response of citing other strictures from Deuteronomy that don’t apply to Christians. There is a principled basis for distinguishing which OT commandments continue to apply, so you must either reason from elementary principles or (better from a Catholic perspective) cite canonical authority,)

        1. It does not apply. Deuteronomy is Mosaic Law. It applies to the agreement that God made with Israel. It is not an agreement God made with anyone else.

          There are many things in it which simply do not apply to Christians. For example Deut 22.8 “When you build a new house, make a parapet around your roof so that you may not bring the guilt of bloodshed on your house if someone falls from the roof.”

          How many houses do you see with parapets?

          1. Moreover, if you really want to have fun, there is Duet 15:1-11.

            “At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts. 2 This is how it is to be done: Every creditor shall cancel any loan they have made to a fellow Israelite. They shall not require payment from anyone among their own people, because the Lord’s time for canceling debts has been proclaimed. 3 You may require payment from a foreigner, but you must cancel any debt your fellow Israelite owes you.”

            1. Sounds like Liz Warren’s proposed bankruptcy reform.

          2. I asked you not to do the usual moronic response.

            1. And I told you the reason (Mosaic law), and gave an example, and you apparently ignored the reason, focusing on the example.

              So, I’ll just give the relevant section. Acts 15. And you can figure it out yourself.

          3. “How many houses do you see with parapets?” Just as many as I see with flat roofs and access for people to walk on them. In Michigan that’s pretty rare, since those roofs leak, but if anyone but maintenance workers are allowed on the roof, the building codes require a parapet or railing. And when could go on the roof of an apartment building (in Denver, where snow is much less of a problem), there was a parapet.

            Now, Deut 22:8 doesn’t make an exception for slanted roofs, but with slanted roofs on nearly every single-family house in MI, I’ve never seen a parapet obstructing the snow sliding off. Do observant Jews have some way of interpreting that requirement away?

  10. It’s been fairly well established that American public schools can have uniforms, and many charter schools do.

    I would think the question would regard a religious objection.

    I suspect that in practice, the sort of people sufficiently religiously conservative to object to girls wearing pants might also be sufficiently religiously conservative to object to various other aspects of public schools, and hence might either send their children to private schools or home school them. This may make a challenge to a policy of this nature difficult to come by in practice.

    1. There are some: https://forward.com/scribe/386754/why-i-chose-to-attend-public-high-school-even-though-im-ultra-orthodox/
      There will be more as the expense of religious private schools rises (for my son, we essentially paid college tuition since he was in pre-school), given that these families are often large.

    2. My high school marching band required pants as part of the uniform. I recall one or two girls of a religious group that forbade pants for women who wore ankle-length skirts in the same fabric, so you couldn’t really tell the difference from a distance. A school could presumably make an exception for religious purposes while still having a no-skirts general policy.

  11. Everyone is missing the point.

    We need to abolish schools.

    1. Unvarnished conservatism is my favorite conservatism. Thank you.

      1. The Presbyterians created public education for the masses you twit … your superiors are talking (but then again, that dude sitting downtown basting in his own piss is your superior) so, …

        1. I don’t think the guy arguing against schools is really superior to much.

          1. You overestimate the dear Rev

          2. Phony Reverends are inferior to everyone.

  12. Public schools can require uniforms. This is uncontroversial. Unless there is some sort of First Amendment objection to the uniform — and something stronger than “I don’t like uniforms and shouldn’t be required to wear them” — what is the issue other than fashion preference?

    1. The USSC (and other, lesser courts) have permitted a good many Constitutional violations as acceptable in order to “maintain order” in the schools. The rules for dress don’t come up very often… the last one I heard about regarded whether a girl could wear a tux to prom. This seems to be a recurring issue.

    2. The government will NOT tell me what my children will wear … create some controversy … try

      1. Do you live in a state that criminalizes nudity?

        1. I do not send my children out buck naked — irreverent

          1. * irrelevant

            [darn fat fingers]

            1. No, irreverent was right.

          2. Not at all irrelevant. You said that the government won’t tell you what your kids can wear; someone else posted a perfectly reasonable example of something you’d probably veto; and you basically agreed that you would, indeed, veto it.

            FWIW, some of the styles kids might wear to school are pretty close to “buck naked,” anyway. Swimsuits (string bikinis for girls, Speedos for boys) and flip-flops come to mind.

            1. If you need the government to dress your kids appropriately, then it is, in fact, YOU that has the problem.

              Government exists to protect rights, period.

              Self-rule by the people is not passing laws telling your neighbor what he can and cannot do, but ruling yourself.

              A society that requires rules and regulations for every tiny little thing is not only NOT free, but it is not healthy. Thus our current sad state of affairs.

              1. If I am understanding you correctly, then, you will make sure that your own children are properly dressed, but what other parents do wrt their own kids isn’t your — or the government’s — business. Logically speaking, there would then be nothing wrong with a school in which your children were the only ones wearing anything. Furthermore, there’s no need for nudity laws in any circumstance.

                I admit that all of this pretty much comes under the heading of “common sense.” But given that common sense isn’t remotely common any more, would you rather there be legislation about this “tiny little thing,” or would you prefer “anything — or nothing — goes”?

                1. That is a false choice.

                  In a world that rejects God, there is no easy answer. In a perfect world, we’d need no law. Government is not required among angels.

                  In search of “freedom,” we have been enslaved.

                  “Human passions unbridled by morality and religion…would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net.”– John Adams

                  1. “In a world that rejects God, there is no easy answer.”

                    Two possibilities:
                    1) God can do something about that, but chooses not to.
                    2) God can’t do anything about that.

                    1. #3?

                      Does not need to consult DWB or James Pollock while running things

  13. File under #clownworld.

  14. There are two points.

    1. School uniforms
    2. “Uniform” school uniforms, versus gender differentiated school uniforms.

    In regards to point 1, there are some studies that appear to indicate that school uniforms result in higher rates of attendance & graduation, with lower rates of disruption. There are a couple cons (generally related to freedom of expression and fiscal burden). I find myself…not necessarily opposed to school uniforms.

    As for point 2, I see no reason that uniforms should not be uniform between the genders, as opposed to differentiated by gender. The skirts/dress thing for girls and women is historic artifact, and women extremely commonly wear pants (or jeans) today. There “may” be a religious case to be made. I can see a religious exception here that allows long skirts or other modesty.

    1. “I see no reason that uniforms should not be uniform between the genders . . . .”
      So you would permit the girls to swim topless? I want to go to the school where you are the principal!

      1. No, the men need to wear a man-bra, obviously.

      2. “So you would permit the girls to swim topless? I want to go to the school where you are the principal!”

        Care to explain to the class why you want to watch topless 8-year-olds swimming?

        1. Care to explain why you are concerned about the length of 8-year-olds’ skirts?

          1. Care to explain why you’re making up opinions about the length of 8-year-olds skirts, and pretending I advocated for them?

  15. Applying this to an American school, would it be permissible for the school to require all students to wear a blouse, skirt, hose, and heels? Would requiring “traditionally feminine” – but gender neutral – clothing be a permissible exercise of government authority? Or would such a dress code be unconstitutional sex-based discrimination?

  16. Ah, the quaint customs of Airstrip One!

    In George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1948) the IngSoc Party uniform was blue overalls to make everyone equal in their insignificance before the State and Party.

    But then girls could join the Junior Anti-Sex League and wear a red sash around the waist of their blue overalls as a symbol of their chastity and devotion to the Party and to Big Brother.

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