A private Catholic school in San Diego instituted a new dress code, banning skirts for girls and telling them to wear shorts or pants because some of the girls were wearing skirts that were too short.
Cathedral Catholic High School in San Diego stated that thousands of hours of detention have been given to students who contravened the dress code that urges modesty, as ABC7 reports. The previous dress code stated that dresses or skirts had to be no shorter than three inches from the top of the kneecap while the girls were standing.
KUSI reported that principal Kevin Calkins sent an email to parents and students explaining that the point of the dress code was to create an environment where students would focus on their studies rather than how they looked. He wrote:
I am writing to communicate some changes to the school dress code starting with the 2019-2020 school year. The most significant change is that skirts will no longer be an option for girls.
Dress code is a perennial challenge. The dress code exists for at least three good reasons: to foster unity, to encourage modesty, and to minimize pressure to conform to particular styles or clothing brands. Basically we hope to foster a faith-based environment where students are focused on learning and not on outward appearances.
The main challenge with dress code has been the length of girls’ skirts. The school has made many attempts to rectify this challenge. The administration has worked with the Parent Association, has issued thousands of hours of detention, has made school-wide announcements (e.g., CCTV, orientations), and has worked with students one-on-one. None of this has had the desired effect of maintaining an overall modest skirt length in compliance with the dress code. The school heard feedback that part of the issue is that the skirts offered by Dennis Uniform did not fit the variety of girls’ bodies that attend Cathedral. We then decided to allow greater flexibility in where students could purchase skirts, so long as they followed the minimum guidelines. That did not work either. The administration eventually opted against strictly enforcing current dress code guidelines because of their negative effect that could have on the environment. Male faculty feel uncomfortable addressing female students about the length of their skirts, and even female faculty have expressed frustration with the ongoing challenge of dress code. There are challenges with boys too, but nothing that will require a change in options.
Instead of skirts, girls will be allowed to wear the following:
The color options for the above-mentioned are navy blue, black, or khaki. Denim fabric, leggings, and athletic wear are not allowed. Boys will also have the new color options for pants/shorts. In addition to holding boys more accountable to dress code guidelines (e.g., length of hair or facial hair), and implementing a restorative approach to dealing with dress code violations, there will be no other changes this year.
An online petition protesting the change was created. On Wednesday, some students and parents protested in front of the school. One student told ABC7, “Oh, my gosh, it is so bad right now. Everyone wants to leave Cathedral, and it’s like not the best. No one wants the skirts going, like literally no one wants the skirts gone. I think only the principal and teachers want the skirts gone.”