The ruling comes after guardians of three students who attend the school, comprised of 900 students in grades kindergarten through eighth, sued the district in 2016 on behalf of the students, CBS News reports.
In their suit, the guardians alleged that in forcing female students to wear skirts, the students have “to pay constant attention to the positioning of their legs during class, distracting them from learning, and has led them to avoid certain activities altogether, such as climbing or playing sports during recess, all for fear of exposing their undergarments and being reprimanded by teachers or teased by boys.”
As the school’s dress code previously read, the required uniform policy was enacted to “serve the School’s mission of providing a classical education by creating a traditional learning environment.” Under the previous dress code, girls were required to wear jumpers, skirts, or skorts that were knee-length or longer. Boys were permitted to wear pants and shorts.
Per a ruling by Judge Malcolm J. Howard, female students will no longer be required to wear skirts. As his ruling states, “Women (and girls) have, for at least several decades, routinely worn both pants and skirts in various settings, including professional settings and school settings. Females have been allowed to wear trousers or pants in all but the most formal or conservative settings since the 1970s.” The judge went on to say that “the skirts requirement causes the girls to suffer a burden the boys do not, simply because they are female.”
According to The New York Times, Baker Mitchell, founder of the Roger Bacon Academy, a company which operates four charter schools in North Carolina, said that following the ruling, the Charter Day School Board was “analyzing the opinion and will be meeting with counsel in the very near future to discuss their options moving forward.”