Catholic School Bans Skirts From Uniform, Parents Flip Out

Beginning in September, female students at St. Bernadette Catholic School in Connecticut will dress in khakis and polo shirts rather than plaid skirts and jumpers. It’s a move that has left parents outraged, mostly because the new uniform breaks “tradition.”

Why the sudden change in uniform? A big part of it has to do with older girls rolling up their skirts’ waistbands to make the hem shorter. (Oh, teenagers.) This isn’t sitting right with many parents, like the mom who declared, “I would like to carry on with the beautiful tradition that the kids wear their proud uniform.”

Another mom, Brenda Abel, told the New Haven Register, “You don’t see girls in skirts often and, if you do, they are often in skirts that are inappropriate.”

Um, I don’t mean to sound disrespectful here, but isn’t that precisely the point? It doesn’t matter that the official school uniform has knee-length skirts. Teenagers will always find inventive new ways to shorten them, rendering them “inappropriate.”

And, besides, this is 2012, not 1952. Girls should be allowed to wear pants to school if they so desire, and it’s astounding to me that parents would feel otherwise. In fact, if it were me, I’d be embracing the change.

Granted, some people are upset that the uniforms will cost them more money because the current uniforms will have to be thrown out. That I can understand. But the other reasons seem just plain silly.

Aside from the whole ‘girls belong in skirts’ philosophy, some parents like that the school’s trademark plaid skirts have a certain recognition factor around town. “People see my daughter and they know she goes to St. Bernadette,” said Kayla Bailey.

And yet another mother, Nancy Owens – who led a petition against the new uniform – told the New Haven Register, “I don’t want my kid looking like a magnet school kid.”

Fortunately, other parents sound way more reasonable. These are the ones who recognize that kids often play outside in cold weather, which would make pants the better option.

I think the whole thing is being blown out of proportion. What these angry parents fail to recognize is that all of the good that comes with a school uniform will still exist. And isn’t that the most important thing?

(Photo: Ron Chapple Studios)

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  • Jen

    I went to Catholic school from kindergarten all the way through senior year of high school. In my high school pants were actually an option, but almost no one wore them (we were also allowed to wear leggings under our skirts in the cold weather). Even though my high school was all-girls and we never ever saw boys anywhere near our campus many of the girls still wore their skirts rolled up to crotch length. I definitely see liking the plaid of the school skirt–it does mean something to those of us who went to Catholic school–but I think the school could probably come up with ways to incorporate the plaid into their new uniform (a logo on the polos perhaps).

  • CW

    There are ankle-length Catholic uniform skirts that the school could’ve chosen. The classical Catholic school in my area requires those. The older girls could try to roll those up. but they’d probably just wind up looking dumb instead of slutty…

    • Jen

      Slutty is an awful term to use to describe anyone, let alone teenagers.

      And most Catholic schools don’t require those because they are traditionally hard to walk around/run around in and basically hinder female movement. Even the Church doesn’t have nuns wear ankle length skirts anymore unless they are cloistered because of how hindering they are to movement.

    • CW

      They are in school- what do they need to run around for unless it’s gym class? And for gym class, they’ve presumably got a different uniform. I’ve got a number of long skirts (I do wear pants, capris, and knee-length skirts as well) and I don’t find them particularly hard to move in. I do think pants ought to be allowed if a student wishes, but I also think that lengthening the skirts is preferable to banning them.

    • Jen

      Seriously? How long has it been since you were in school? Kids need freedom of movement and a long woolen skirt is going to be a hazard. These are young kids. They move…a lot. They are in these uniforms for at least 8 hours, the idea that it’s not a big deal to restrict the movement of the females is so silly. I’m going to bet you don’t try and run and play with a bunch of seven year olds in your long skirts and even if you do you are an ADULT.

  • Aileen

    My daughter goes to Catholic school and wears the plaid jumper she also has the option of pants. The older girls have the option of a skirt but I only ever see then in their pants.

  • SisterMaryNoNo

    Ridiculous! As a graduate of 12 years of Catholic schooling I’m appalled by this. Rolling up skirts is not exclusive to Catholic schoolgirls. Girls will always roll up/hem up/pull up skirts whether they are part of a uniform or not. Really? Khakis and a polo shirt? I’m glad I got to wear a feminine looking uniform and looked like a girl rather than dressing like a boy in boring khakis and a (ugh) polo shirt.

    • Jen

      All this time I was looking like a boy when I go out everyday! Thanks for the heads up. I’ll get back into my 1910s uniform right away!

  • melissa

    honestly… let them wear what they want. Let them roll up their skirts. Let them make mistakes, have fun, let live and let them be teenagers.

    And for God’s sakes stop telling everyone what’s appropriate!

    Sometimes I feel the world is run by a bunch of sexless church ladies!

    • casey

      I agree with you!

  • Aijalyn

    I wouldn’t send my kids to a school that said that they had to expose parts of their bodies that boys didn’t have to. I’m wholly in favor of everyone in school wearing pants. Gender doesn’t need to be specially highlighted in schools, and that’s my feminist rant for the day.
    As for the mother who’s afraid someone will mistake her daughter for a magnet school student? Well, I’ll save my anti-classism rant for another time.

    • Alexander Richards

      Expose parts of the body that boys don’t? Most school that I know the boys of the same age have to wear shorts. So they either have to expose the same or more if they follow the uniform code ask kirts often have to be longer than shorts are allowed to be.

      Personally I like the idea of the school simply removed the lable girl and boy from the uniform code and late either gender wear their choise of the two opens 8) though you probably find far less boys oping to wear the skirt than girls do wear the shorts

  • Erika Allen

    Good gracious, what the heck? I had both pants and a skirt, though I preferred the skirt because I looked prettier. Offer both and if the girls roll up their skirts then that should be considered an infraction. Rules are in schools to be broken and then learned from; why does the idea of a girl in a dress have to end with the whole “omgawd it’s not 1950!”.