The letter from a NSW school asking girls to dress more 'modestly'.

Sexism remains unfortunately alive and well throughout our schooling system.

This week, a parent whose children attend a Catholic school in Australia received a letter from the school's principal that left her outraged. The letter, addressed to all parents and guardians, said the school's female students need to dress more modestly to ensure "a safer and respectful learning environment".

The letter, which was sent to Mamamia by a concerned parent, began with "concerns over the way in which some of our girls are wearing their uniforms".

"It has come to our attention yet again that a number of girls have been rolling their skirts up to an unacceptable length. Furthermore, there's a concerning trend emerging where some girls are rolling up their sports shorts excessively, resulting in a tight fit that is unflattering both in the front and the rear," it read.

Note the reference to "unflattering". 

Watch: If a man lived like a woman for a day. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia. 

"Additionally we've noticed that some girls are wearing shorts that are too small and too tight," the principal saying the said shorts "compromises their modesty".

The principal not only requested for the female students to dress more modestly, but he also equated modest dressing to a more "positive and respectful learning environment for both staff and students". 


As if the length of a girl's uniform skirt will improve her "wellbeing" or "safety".

"I am writing to you to request your support in addressing this issue with your daughter(s) where applicable. A conversation at home about the importance of wearing uniform properly and modestly would greatly assist us in ensuring a positive experience for all students.

"At this stage, we have chosen not to address this matter directly with the girls at the school to prevent any potential embarrassment. Nevertheless, should this concern persist, we may need to engage in individual conversations with them. Your cooperation in reinforcing these expectations at home is invaluable to achieving this goal."

The letter ended with: "Thank you for your attention to this matter and for your continued support in fostering a positive school culture."

For context, the school in question is co-ed.

Did the parents/guardians receive a letter informing them to tell their sons that how a girl dresses shouldn't change the behaviour they show towards them? No. 

As one of the parents tells Mamamia: "Frankly, I am appalled not just by the intention of the communication, but I also find the tone and word choice a little creepy. It is unacceptable that this message be disguised as something in the interests of a 'respectful' and 'inclusive' learning environment and key to student wellbeing."

We've seen stories like this play out again and again.


Countless schools across the country have been forced to issue apologies after making female students kneel down to have their skirts measured. A teacher involved in one of the incidents informed one of the girls that their skirt length was "distracting" for male teachers and older male students. 

One head teacher was quoted as saying: "It's not pleasant for male members of staff and students either, the girls have to walk up stairs and sit down and it's a complete distraction."

This same school sent girls home because their trousers were deemed too tight because they would prove a "distraction" to male teachers.

We've also seen pushback against dress codes for female students in Canada, where many of the pupils used the hashtag #IAmMoreThanADistraction and turned up at school with placards asking: "Are my pants lowering your test scores?"

Equating what a girl wears to whether or not it will incite rape or change the behaviour of men around her is wrong. 

So is suggesting that the length of a girl's skirt, or how tight her sports shorts are will impact a school's 'positive school culture'.

In schools throughout Australia, both public, private, independent and religious, there are far more rules about the clothing of girls versus boys. Wearing a skirt that isn't dragging below the knees shouldn't be considered an invitation or a distraction, but a moral right for every woman and girl. 

It's up to our education institutions to recognise the double standards at play. 

Feature Image: Getty.

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