Dozens of boys in southwest England have defiantly swapped their pants out for pleated skirts after being forbidden from wearing shorts to school, despite a heat wave.
The students at Isca Academy in Exeter said they borrowed the skirts from sisters and female friends to protest the school’s dress code policy, which requires boys to wear the leg-covering garments while girls have the option of pants or skirts.
“We’re not allowed to wear shorts, and I’m not sitting in trousers all day, it’s a bit hot,” one of the boys told the BBC on Thursday.
The boys’ protest ended up going viral, with a photo of them lined up in skirts scoring more than 71,000 likes on Twitter as of Thursday afternoon.
Some of the boys’ mothers have sided with their sons.
“The girls are allowed to wear skirts all year round so I think it’s completely unfair that the boys can’t wear shorts,” Claire Reeves told Devon Live. “Boys just don’t have the option, and I am just really concerned about how the heat is going to affect him.”
As Reeves noted, the protest came as the country battles scorching temperatures that have reached the 90s.
Despite that potential health threat, Reeves complained that the school threatened to place her son in isolation all day if he showed up wearing shorts. If she kept him home, it’d be considered an unauthorized absence, she told Devon Live.
Students credited a teacher with suggesting they wear skirts instead of pants, though it’s believed that it was suggested in jest. After that, several boys showed up wearing the breathable garments, then dozens more followed.
When at least one of them said they were told that they couldn’t wear the skirts with hairy legs, they fetched razors and shaved them, the boys told Devon Live and The Guardian.
Fellow mom Claire Lambeth said she’s proud of her 15-year-old son, Ryan, who she said was one of the first to wear one.
“Ryan came up with the idea of wearing a skirt so that evening we borrowed one. He wore it the next day – as did five other boys. This morning there were about 50-60 of them in skirts,” she told The Guardian. “I didn’t expect it to take off like that. The school is being silly really – this is exceptional weather. I was very proud of Ryan. I think it was a great idea.”
Headteacher, Aimee Mitchell, wrote in a letter posted on the school’s website this week, that she would be “happy to consider a change” in the school’s dress code in the coming weeks, but not without consulting both students and their families.
In the meantime, students are allowed to remove their ties and undo the top buttons of their shirts, her letter said.
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