While celebrities and other prominent public figures are repeatedly speaking up against gender discrimination, it seems like sexism is here to stay.
Case in point: The administration at Henderson High School in west Auckland, New Zealand, gathered 40 female students at an after-school meeting one day, warning them they needed to lengthen their uniform skirts. Apparently, the girls were OK with the rule, until they learned the reason.
As it turns out, the school’s deputy principal, Cherith Telford, told the girls that the rule was implemented in order to "keep our girls safe, stop boys from getting ideas and create a good work environment for male staff.”
Needless to say, parents were also considerably upset when they heard their daughters were subjected to blatant sexism at school.
"The rules themselves aren't the problem; the problem is when these codes target girls specifically because their bodies are sexual and distracting," Tuttle said.
Parents pointed out that they're generally satisfied with the school and with principal, Mike Purcell, but very disturbed with the way the skirt issue dealt with.
Purcell wasn't concerned.
"Henderson High School has rules relating to the wearing of school uniforms. These rules are not new and all families are made aware of them when they enroll. They include a stipulation that the hemline of female students' skirts must be on the knee, no higher,” he said. “The uniform is practical for school wear and these rules are regularly enforced to ensure that all students can focus on their learning and feel comfortable in the school environment.
"As principal, I make no apology for insisting on high standards throughout the school and I have high expectations. That includes wearing the uniform according to the agreed rules."
Following school rules is one thing. But couching the entire affair in language that suggests boys (and the male staff!) will walk into walls distracted over a girl's bare knee is simply distasteful and wrong. Telford should apologize for these sexist words and, along with enforcing uniform rules, Purcell should recognize his role as educator is not to impart academics alongside lessons in gender discrimination.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: REUTERS/Mohammad Shoib