Connecticut Catholic School Banning Skirts from Uniform

St. Bernadette's School in New Haven will swap the girl's uniform of plaid skirts for khaki pants. Photo courtesy of Mara Lavitt/New Haven Register
St. Bernadette's School in New Haven will swap the girl's uniform of plaid skirts for khaki pants. Photo courtesy of Mara Lavitt/New Haven Register

St. Bernadette Catholic School will be updating the girls uniforms next fall. After many female students have been rolling up their plaid skirts to make them shorter, the school has decided to ban their current skirts and jumpers and replace them with khaki pants. Parents are upset that they'll have to shell out more money for new uniforms, but they're also angry that their daughters will look less feminine.

According to the New Haven Register, principal Sherry Steines recently wrote a letter to parents claiming the new dress code is the result of "many conversations and input from the school survey." Apparently some parents never took any such survey or were consulted about the dress code. As a result about 20 parents signed a petition to meet with the the principal about the changes, but they were ultimately turned away.

"They said the jumper is going to last a couple of years and then, boom, it's gone," parent Brenda Abel told the Register. She said tuition is costly enough and she'd prefer not having to buy new uniforms. Her daughter, Jessica, is in sixth grade and keeps her skirt at the required knee length. Several mothers told the Register the school should forbid skirt rolling, but let them keep their uniforms. One parent who wished to remain anonymous told the paper, "I would like to carry on with the beautiful tradition that the kids wear their proud uniform." Kayla Bailey agreed, saying, "People see my daughter and they know she goes to St. Bernadette." Nancy Owens, who crafted the petition, said she too prefers the current recognizable plaid girls uniforms. "I don't want my kid looking like a magnet school kid," she said.

The new policy also asks that students trade in their white polo shirts for navy blue ones and an optional navy blue vest. The girls must wear navy blue knee socks or tights with brown tie shoes. In warmer months, boys in upper grades may wear shorts and girls may wear skorts.

Principal Steines has responded to parents in another written statement provided to the Register. She confirmed that parents had complained about rising skirt hemlines and the ability to keep white polo shirts clean, and the new dress code was a result of their feedback. "The new uniform is more affordable, alleviates cleaning challenges and will make a neat presentation," Steines wrote.

Beth Capotorto, whose daughter just started St. Bernadette last fall, said the switch to pants is a good option for girls since they play outside in the colder months. "My daughter doesn't particularly like slacks, but I think it's fine," she told the Register.

We've noticed more and more schools removing skirts from their dress code, but we have to wonder: why now? For decades girls have shortened hems and done everything to push their uniforms to the limits. Perhaps rather than reinforcing hemlines in inches, it's easier to just do away with skirts and jumpers for good.

Do you think schools should keep skirts in the dress code, or are uniforms long overdue for a makeover?

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