Court rules charter school can't force students to wear skirts

Girl in a school uniform.
Photo credit Getty Images
By , Audacy and WWL

Gone might be the days of uniform dress codes as a federal appeals court ruled that a North Carolina charter school violated female students' constitutional rights by requiring them to wear skirts.

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The ruling came from a majority of the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, which found that the school's dress code violated its female students' equal protection rights.

The case was brought up by parents who had argued their daughters were being put at a disadvantage by the requirement at Charter Day School in Leland.

Dress codes such as this have been banned from public schools for some time, but the court's majority now concludes that public charter schools are also subject to the Constitution's equal protection clause.

Further hearings have also been recommended at lower federal court by the 4th Circuit for the claims that the policy also violates the federal Title IX anti-discrimination law.

One of the plaintiffs, Bonnie Peltier, has a daughter who attends the school, and she shared in a statement what the ruling means for her daughter and other students at the school.

"I'm glad the girls at Charter Day School will now be able to learn, move, and play on equal terms as the boys in school," Peltier said in a statement. "In 2022, girls shouldn't have to decide between wearing something that makes them uncomfortable or missing classroom instruction time."

The American Civil Liberties Union represented the plaintiffs, and senior staff attorney Galen Sherwin said in a statement that the ruling should impact more than just schools in North Carolina.

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"Today's decision is a victory for North Carolina's students attending public charter schools," said Sherwin, "and should put charter schools across the country on notice that they must follow the same rules as traditional public schools when it comes to guaranteeing students' equal educational opportunities."

The female students fighting against the policy were in grades kindergarten through eighth. They argued they did not receive equal treatment to male students because the dress code limited how they could participate in recess and made them uncomfortable in situations like emergency drills.

The school's legal representation, Aaron Streett, shared that it does not agree with the majority opinion. Streett also shared they are not evaluating next steps in the case.

"As the six dissenting judges powerfully explain, the majority opinion contradicts Supreme Court precedent on state action, splits with every other circuit to consider the issue, and limits the ability of parents to choose the best education for their children," the statement said.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Getty Images