School Accused of Sexism After Asking Parents to Measure Girls' Skirt Lengths

Marie Claire Dorking
A school has been accused of sexism for asking parents to measure the length of girls’ skirts. [Photo: Getty]

A school in the U.K. has been accused of sexism after issuing a request for parents to measure the length of female pupils’ skirts.

Ralph Allen School, in Bath, put a message out to parents and caretakers this week via Facebook, asking them to check the length of their children’s skirts before they leave the house for school in the morning.

The Facebook post shared on June 5 reads: “Parents/carers — please help! We are reinforcing to girl students the correct length of their skirts. The hem of the skirt should be no more than a planner’s width from the knee when the student is kneeling down. We will be asking students whose skirts are too short to unroll the tops or to wear an alternative the next day. We need parents to help too — check your daughter’s skirt length before she leaves for school in the morning and ensure it is no shorter than it should be. Impress upon our students that they should wear correct length skirts. Thanks in advance for your help.”

The Facebook Post requesting parents measure skirt lengths [Photo: Facebook/Ralph Allen]

Since putting out the post, the school has faced criticism from some parents asking why the school is policing the way that girls dress.

“The last two terms the focus has been on boys’ shirts being tucked in,” the school responded. “We have found that it is more successful to target one thing at a time, so all staff can help to reinforce the uniform guidelines together.”

One parent described the request to measure her daughter’s skirt as humiliating.

“The idea of asking your daughter to kneel down to check a skirt length feels like an act of humiliation. It has essence of Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale,” she wrote.

Another thought it marked a return to old-fashioned rules and regulations aimed at the female sex. “Is this a joke? I came here really hoping this was an ironic post as an example of what women had to put up with a century ago. A kind of ‘how ridiculous we were back then’ thing. No?” she wrote.

Other parents were in support of the school’s plea.

“I’m very glad the school are enforcing this policy. I have sat waiting to collect at the end of the day and not seen a single female student in a skirt of an appropriate length,” one woman wrote.

“I am so happy to hear this it is awful seeing some of the girls with the skirts so short! I am constantly telling my daughter to not roll it up,” added another parent.

Yet another parent asked if it might be better for the school to have a gender-neutral uniform. “Is there any way that RAS could have a set of uniform for EVERYONE — eg kilts/trousers/jackets and shirts. Is there a good reason to gender the children in their clothes?” she wrote.

Is measuring the length of girls’ skirts sexist? [Photo: Getty]

Commenting on its uniform policy the Ralph Allen website added: “Ralph Allen requires students to wear uniform at all times. The uniform promotes a distinctive and appropriate appearance inside and outside Ralph Allen. The uniform requirements are intended to be clear and unambiguous.”

The news came after it was announced, by a charity that develops LGBT training in schools, that a gender-neutral school uniform policy, including allowing boys to wear skirts, has now been adopted in 120 schools across the U.K.; Ralph Allen School is clearly not one of them.

Ralph Allen School isn’t the only school to try and introduce a skirt-length ruling either. Earlier this year a number of students at Ebbsfleet Academy in Kent, England were refused entry to their first day of the new term because their skirts were deemed too short.

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