Watch out, Jaden Smith, there are some new skirt aficionados in town.
Boys at the ISCA Academy in Exeter, England, have started showing up to school in skirts to protest the school’s “no shorts” policy.
Earlier this week, several students and parents approached the school’s administrators to request that boys be allowed to wear shorts instead of their uniform's usual pants, due to the unusually warm weather this year. Head teacher Aimee Mitchell denied the request, and suggested (sarcastically, the students believe) that the boys wear skirts instead, banking on the assumption that to propose a boy dress like a girl is an idea so thoroughly absurd that male students would balk in disgust, and maybe go do some pushups to reassert their masculinity.
Mitchell seems to have underestimated the boys, though. One mother told The Guardian that her son, Ryan, 15, had come home the day before he donned a skirt, complaining about the hot weather.
“He said it was unbearable,” Claire Mitchell explained. “I spoke to a teacher to ask about shorts and she said it was school policy [that they could not be worn]. I did say that this was exceptional weather, but they were having none of it. If girls can wear skirts, why can’t boys wear skirts?”
“Ryan came up with the idea of wearing a skirt and that evening we borrowed a skirt. He wore it the next day — as did five other boys. This morning there were about 50 to 60 of them all in skirts. 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.”
Students seem truly committed to the protest. Some boys brought razors to school after one student was told his skirt was too short and his legs were too hairy (because leg hair is well known to impede learning abilities, I guess). Another ninth grader said that he was enjoying the experience, and that he appreciated “the nice breeze”.
Head teacher Aimee Mitchell said she would be “happy to consider a change for the future.”
“We recognize that the last few days have been exceptionally hot and we are doing our utmost to enable both students and staff to remain as comfortable as possible.”
These students aren’t the only men trading in their slacks for more a more breathable option. Bus drivers in Nantes, France, are also wearing skirts to protest not being allowed to wear shorts on the job.
Although we can’t know whether any of the gents participating in these protests will swap out their pants for skirts on a regular basis (though once you’ve enjoyed a cool breeze between your legs on a hot day, I imagine it would be pretty difficult to go back to trapping your legs in stifling polyester), their actions are indicative of an increasingly widespread rejection of arbitrary gender norms. For years, the conversation around gender equality seemed to center exclusively around allowing women to engage in masculinity. Finally, the discussion seems to be widening, encouraging men to engage with their femininity as well.
“I feel extremely proud of them all for standing up for their rights,” one mother told the BBC, “People are always talking about equal rights for males and females and school uniform shouldn’t any different.”