High schoolers protest ban on shorts for girls

Students write letter to Education Minister Naftali Bennett after some girls, but not boys, sent home over clothes

Pupils at the Kalay High School in Givatayim protest dress-code inequality, May 2015. (Photo: Facebook)
Pupils at the Kalay High School in Givatayim protest dress-code inequality, May 2015. (Photo: Facebook)

As the country suffered its way through several late-May heatwaves, high school girls have been taking a look at their institutions’ dress codes and finding them to come up short.

A group of high-school pupils sent a letter to Education Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday, expressing their dismay over not being allowed to wear shorts while their male classmates were allowed to.

The students also say they plan to step up the so-called “shorts protest” and take it all the way to the Knesset.

The protests began in recent weeks as temperatures soared and both male and female pupils showed up at school wearing shorts. In several high schools, the girls were sent home to change clothing while boys were allowed to remain, sparking protests over unequal dress codes and unfair enforcement.

“Many incidents from all over the country, in which girls were discriminated against at school because of different dress codes for boys and girls, have been reported over the past few days,” the students wrote in their letter to Bennett.

“Since our education system is supposed to be egalitarian, we are writing to you, demanding that you intervene in the matter and support our struggle for an equal dress code for boys and girls, and of course enforce it for everyone without discrimination,” the NRG news site reported.

In response to the controversy, Menashe Levy, the head of the principals’ association, wrote a letter to school principals instructing them to institute a dress code that would apply equally to male and female pupils. If girls could not come to school wearing shorts, he said, then boys should not be able to do so either.

The schools can use the matter as a teachable moment, he wrote, “by making it into a true educational process in which principals, teachers, pupils and parents participate in the conversation, whose purpose is to arrive at an agreed-upon dress code.”

One of the leaders of the protest movement told Army Radio students would protest inequality at the Knesset in two weeks.

MK Rachel Azaria (Kulanu) took to Facebook to speak out against the unequal dress codes. “We cannot raise a whole generation of young women who think that their bodies are a problem. We need to raise a generation of young women and men who are confident in themselves, see themselves as equals and believe in who they are and what they can do.”

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