A strict uniform policy that required a North Carolina middle school's girls to wear skirts to school every day was struck down by a federal judge.
They ruled that the antiquated policy was a constitutional violation of the equal protection clause.
In 2016, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of North Carolina, filed a lawsuit against Charter Day School in Leland on behalf of girls ages 5, 10 and 14.
Their suit claimed that the skirt requirement was an academic distraction, made students feel cold and inhibited them from performing physical activities.
The oldest student, Keely Burks, asked for help from the ACLU after her right to file a petition against the skirt requirement was taken away.
"I created a petition to ask my school to change its policy that says girls have to wear skirts to school or risk being punished."
We're proud to represent Keely in a lawsuit filed last year. #InternationalWomensDay https://t.co/yEi73m0UUZ— ACLU of North Carolina (@ACLU of North Carolina)1489022520.0
On Friday, Judge Malcolm Howard in the Eastern District of North Carolina ruled the "skirts requirement causes the girls to suffer a burden the boys do not, simply because they are female."
The judge also rejected the charter school's reasoning for the dress code.
They alleged it promoted "traditional values" and cultivated "mutual respect" between boys and girls at the school.
It took a court order to force a North Carolina charter school to accept the simple fact that, in 2019, girls shoul… https://t.co/ufTt6o2XOy— Global Fund forWomen (@Global Fund forWomen)1554062411.0
The school argued the lawsuit in 2016 with a written statement:
"CDS's dress code is not discriminatory and is clearly written out such that parents and students know what is permitted."
The school also argued they did not have to comply with Title IX, a federal law that protects students in educational programs that receive federal funds from gender discrimination.
A parent of one of the students involved in the case, Bonnie Peltier, was satisfied with the judge's ruling but balked over the length of time it took.
Peltier told NBC News:
"We're happy the court agrees, but it's disappointing that it took a court order to force the school to accept the simple fact that, in 2019, girls should have the choice to wear pants."
When another parent, Erika Booth, was alerted to the lawsuit, she was relieved in knowing she wasn't alone.
"Once I found out there was a lawsuit, I was delighted," she told TODAY Style, last year.
"I felt like the rule was unfair to girls all along. When my daughter … found out she had to wear skirts the first day of kindergarten, she cried."
It took long enough for us to get here, didn't it?
A charter school in North Carolina loose a law suit for a dress code were girls were never permitted to wear pants.… https://t.co/w8vGZUAtDp— Nadine Liberty (@Nadine Liberty)1553981068.0
@APSouthRegion @AP Is it still 1952 in North Carolina? And what does this word ‘forcing’ mean??— JMS (@JMS)1553880980.0
@APSouthRegion @AP YES ! About god damn time this happened this is just plain sexist forcing girls to have to wear… https://t.co/HoD6JSASt0— Howling wolf (@Howling wolf)1553881389.0
@APSouthRegion "Traditional" values are one thing, being Victorian is another. Girls can still represent the schoo… https://t.co/L2b4Tz4VQT— Natural Flirt Gamer (@Natural Flirt Gamer)1553892999.0
@ACLU Fifty years ago, when I graduated from high school, this was the rule. Fifty. Years. Ago. https://t.co/uGSANAicsM— Mary Ann (@Mary Ann)1553871308.0
@ACLU Unreal. I fought for that on OSU campus 50 years ago!— Robertson Work (@Robertson Work)1553870703.0
The ACLU celebrated the momentous victory.
Today’s ruling vindicates our young clients. This policy reflected antiquated stereotypes, intentionally sending th… https://t.co/SJDQjhPyL1— ACLU (@ACLU)1553870551.0
Welcome to 2019, Charter Day School.
Make room for the girls, cause we've been waiting a very long time.