This Mom Just Took Down the School Dress Code Sexism People Forget About

May 18th 2016

Laura Donovan

In recent years, some young women have criticized their schools for enforcing dress codes that restrict clothing that may distract their male peers. Critics have said this logic is sexist, because it blames women for the behavior of men.

But there is another form of dress code sexism that many people forget about, and one mom just successfully challenged it.


A photo posted by The Age (@theagephoto) on

Simone Cariss, a mother in Essendon, Australia, recently gained worldwide attention for confronting her daughter's school uniform dress code policy.

After her 6-year-old daughter, Asha was told she could not wear pants at Our Lady Of The Nativity Primary School, a Catholic school in Melbourne, Carissa started a Change.org petition asking the Victorian Department of Education to implement gender uniform equality at the school.

Cariss wrote that dresses can be very limiting for little girls who like to play outdoors:

"Dresses disadvantage girls like my daughter who want to play footy, run, climb and ride a bike to school. The boys get to wear pants and shorts which facilitate these activities far better than a dress. I won't stand for a policy that only encourages and promotes girls to be active on sports days (at my daughters school this is twice per week). What about the rest of the time?"

Cariss wrote that her daughter frequently asks "Why can't I wear pants like the boys?" — a question that Cariss has trouble answering:

"'Because you're a girl' is not something I am prepared to say to my 6-year-old daughter. A daughter who I have raised to believe she can do and conquer anything, regardless of her gender, and that she can like what she wants to like and not what gender stereotypes dictate she should like."

She added that even though the Australian government recently started the "Girls Make Your Move" campaign to encourage exercise in young girls, the campaign "flies in the face of our young girls who are forced to wear heavy, long tunics and uncomfortable tights in winter and dresses that risk bearing their underwear in summer should they want to be active like their male peers."

The petition, which has 16,122 supporters as of publication, appears to have been a success. Cariss wrote on her Change.org petition on Monday that her initiative resulted in the establishment of a school uniform review committee at her daughter's institution, and that her daughter is now allowed to wear pants to school if she wants.

“The principal called me today and said she hadn’t responded very well in the first place and that they would form a committee to discuss the changes and then roll them out,” Cariss told Kidspot.

Anne Doherty, principal of Our Lady of the Nativity Primary School, told ATTN: via email that "the issue has been resolved amicably" and that both parties "have moved forward."

Many people have shown support for Cariss' initiative through the petition hashtag #girlswearpantstoo:

RELATED: These Girls Demanded to Know Why Their Uniforms Were Called Inappropriate and Got the Worst Possible Answer