Here's yet another example of sexist school uniform crackdowns: This week, a school in England sent home 29 female students when they didn't meet a uniform test, Milton Keys Citizen reports. Students at Lord Grey School were told to go home and change because of too-tight pants and overly short skirts. Dr. Tracey Jones, the school's principal, claims it was an effort to protect their female students, who "should look demure and modest and not appear over-sexualized in figure-hugging trousers or very short skirts," she told the Milton Keys Citizen. She also cited the school's six flights of stairs as a reason for strictly enforcing the dress code, which specifies knee-length black skirts or black pants that aren't tight at the ankles. "The last thing we want is boys peering up girls’ skirts while they are climbing the stairs," Dr. Jones told the publication. Chloe Hirst, a 16-year-old student sent home on April 11, spoke out about the school's uniform-enforcing double standard. "The boys never get any hassle; [teachers] are so sexist about it," she told Daily Mail. "I feel like it is disgusting how they ask women to dress modestly."
Dr. Jones issued a statement that was sent to parents via email, defending the move, per Metro UK. "We have had a strict uniform policy for quite a few years now," she wrote, stressing that it's less about the dangers of stairs and too-short skirts and instead, primarily about "teaching young people about following rules." Things then take a body-shaming detour: Dr. Jones says that too-tight clothing, on "girls who are not very slim," can be "unflattering," as it "emphasizes their heftiness," according to a copy of the letter obtained by Metro UK. (A tweaked, slightly less cringe-y version is on Lord Grey School's website.) The situation sounds pretty similar to a uniform-related debacle in New Zealand last week, when a high school in Auckland asked that female students wear longer skirts so as to not distract their male peers and teachers. In light of the Lord Grey news, Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, spoke to The Guardian about the implications of this situation, and how we talk about dress codes more widely: "Girls’ bodies and dress are often policed much more severely than boys’, and — especially when you start throwing around words like 'modest' and 'demure' — there is a real sense of girls being judged and valued on their dress and a moral judgement being applied in a way that certainly isn’t happening to their male peers."