Let them wear pants!


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Sarah Ladd

Well, I’m here to rant about a frequently recurring topic in my columns. That is, the enormous amount of sexist rules forced upon girls and women across our country and the world. But, before getting into that, I’d like to point out again that it’s April 2019. Twenty-first century.

The New York Times reported Sunday that a judge has ruled in favor of a few young girls who dared to make a difference in their North Carolina Charter Day School. As a result of their work and the judge’s ruling, those girls will be allowed to wear pants, no longer just skirts, to school.

Before this ruling, the girls did not have a choice between pants and skirts and had to sit with their legs beside them rather than crossed in front, the Times reported. I’m sure anyone who’s sat on the floor with their legs curled up at their side for any amount of time knows how uncomfortable that is.

So, some of these girls started a petition to demand equal rights for themselves and to “have a choice” in the clothes they wore.

But, it took years of fighting the case to arrive at this decision allowing them the choice between pants and skirts.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I’m glad there are brave people in the world like these girls who will notice a weakness in our systems and call for equality. I celebrate with the school for taking a step forward.

My problem, however, is that this school’s policy restricting the girls’ dress code and not the boys made it to our current place in history. It survived, amidst the idea that we live in a civilized and modern society.

Malcolm J. Howard was the judge who ruled in favor of the girls. He wrote in his ruling, “The skirts requirement causes the girls to suffer a burden the boys do not, simply because they are female,” according to the Times. He’s right.

The Times article also included references to the schools’ efforts to instill “traditional values” into their students and to uphold chivalry. However, when traditional values intersect with equality, equality must always come first. And chivalry should never be seen as mutually exclusive from feminism. We should be teaching the next generation of men that they should respect women not because they think they’re weaker than them, but because they are human.

While I recognize that many schools uphold a dress code (which, in its bare form, I’m not opposed to), it is unacceptable to force girls to wear skirts that can be restricting and distracting. They should have the option of the freedom pants allow.

This school in North Carolina has thankfully been able to take a much needed step forward. May more follow. May we not simply wait for this kind of conflict to work itself out over years in the court systems. We must seek out rules that enforce and accept sexism and we must fight to overturn them.