On Friday, a federal judge in North Carolina — a state which, as The Daily Wire reported, just saw its 20-week abortion ban invalidated this week by a different federal judge — ruled that a charter school's mandate that female students wear skirts amounts to unconstitutional sex discrimination under the Fourteenth Amendment.
The Associated Press reports:
A North Carolina charter school promoting traditional values engaged in unconstitutional sex discrimination by requiring girls to wear skirts, a federal judge has ruled.
U.S. District Judge Malcolm Howard ruled that Charter Day School can’t enforce the skirts-only rule as part of its dress code that punishes violations with suspensions and even expulsion. No child has been expelled for violating the dress code since the school opened in 2000, Howard said in a decision filed on Thursday.
But girls are clearly treated differently than boys at the kindergarten through 8th grade school in Leland, about 10 miles (16.1 kilometers) west of Wilmington, Howard ruled. That’s a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection requirements.
Charter schools, by nature, are legally unique entities that operate in the murky middle between public and private entities. As the Associated Press explains, "Charter schools are public schools — funded by state taxpayers — that are allowed to do many things differently than traditional public schools. In the case of Charter Day School, it is run by a nonprofit organization but contracts with a for-profit company to run business and academic operations."
As The Hill reports, the plaintiffs, who initially sued in 2016, "alleg[ed] that the dress code makes [the girls] colder than boys during the winter and also 'forces them 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.'"
The ruling from Judge Howard is hardly the only controversial Equal Protection Clause constitutional ruling having to deal with sex discrimination, of late. As The Daily Wire reported last month, a federal judge in Texas recently ruled that the male-only U.S. military draft was unconstitutional:
A federal court judge in Texas has struck a blow for "feminism," ruling Friday that a men-only draft is unconstitutional and represents an instance of "gender-based discrimination" under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. ...
"This case balances on the tension between the constitutionally enshrined power of Congress to raise armies and the constitutional mandate that no person be denied the equal protection of the law," the judge wrote in his decision. He added that a decision was needed because Congress has been debating the issue of drafting women for decades with no result.
According to the Supreme Court in the Obergefell case legalizing gay marriage across the country, the judge noted, the government has an obligation to make decisions on issues of gender equality quickly, and must determine immediately whether such discrimination serves "an important governmental interest today."