How These Boys Defied Gender Norms in Order to Beat a School's Uniform Policy

July 22nd 2016

Taylor Bell

It's not every day that boys wear skirts, but that's exactly what four British teenagers did in order to expose the double standard in their school's uniform policy.

Four 14-year-old boys at Longhill High School in the English resort town of Brighton decided to wear skirts to school after they were reprimanded and sent home for wearing the school's gym shorts during a record-breaking heat wave, UK publication The Argus reported. 

Michael Parker, Kodi Ailing, George Boyland, and Jesse Stringer took action on Tuesday after they realized their school policy allowed girls to wear skirts and show their legs, but not boys.

"It's not fair for boys to be roasting in black trousers on the hottest day of the year while the girls can wear skirts," Parker said, according to Mashable.

Michael Parker's mother, Angela Parker, called the school dress code "discriminatory" and claimed the school did not make it easy for students to stay cool.

"It's discriminatory against boys; why should they be punished?" Angela Parker told Metro.co.uk. "The school doesn’t let them have a drink of water during class, and the rooms aren’t air conditioned." (School officials said that students do get water and are made to feel as comfortable as possible.)

The boys wore navy pleated skirts back to school.

Teachers protested the boys' decision to wear the skirts, but school headmistress Kate Williams said in a statement that it was OK for the boys to wear the skirts under the school's policy, according to the Daily Mail.

"Students can choose to wear any part of the agreed school uniform," Williams said.

The issue brings up a larger point about the danger of gender norms and dress codes.

Society deems what is appropriate for men and women to wear, which can have consequences. If skirts are considered feminine, men may feel compelled to avoid them to preserve their masculinity — even if they could be more comfortable in them. At Longhill High School, four students demonstrated that they could flout social convention to stay cool during the afternoon heat.

[H/T: Daily Mail]