A high school in the US has banned leggings as pants. The reason why will floor you.

““Not being able to wear leggings because it’s ‘too distracting for boys’ is giving us the impression we should be guilty for what guys do.”

A high school in the US has banned girls from wearing leggings as pants.

Wait, wait. Please hold your applause.

Before those of you out there, who see such a sartorial decision as a mortal sin, start celebrating, the school hasn’t made this decision because they’ve come under the new management of US Vogue editor Anna Wintour.

No, leggings as pants has been banned because the school administrators were worried that the fashion choice was ‘too distracting for boys’.

This isn’t a style-driven decision. It’s a sexist one.

Haven Middle School – which has no official uniform – allegedly banned leggings and yoga pants a fortnight ago, and decided that if leggings were being worn, a short pair of shorts or a skirt must be worn over the top. Previously, the school dress code only said that if someone was wearing a pair of leggings, they also had to be wearing a shirt long enough that reached down to their fingers when standing upright.

However, some girls at the school have said that they have been told by teachers they are not allowed to wear leggings at all. The school will reportedly be discussing the uniform policy during upcoming meetings, to at least make sure all teachers are consistently enforcing the same rules across the board.

Regardless of what you think about leggings as pants, and whether or not it makes your eyeballs blister — for the record, I’m not one of those people. Wearing leggings as pants is the fashion equivalent of cinnamon cronuts. Deliciously comforting. (Plus, you can eat as many cronuts as you like while wearing leggings as pants, because of that stretchy waistband – it should be obvious that young women should not be made to feel ashamed or embarrassed about their bodies.)

And more importantly, young women should not be held responsible for the actions of young men.

If leggings are truly “too distracting” – and the male students at Haven Middle High are spending more time ogling their female classmates than learning long division – then maybe it’s the boys who need to have a sit down with their teachers to discuss appropriate behaviour.

The good news is that the girls are fighting back.

More than 500 students at Haven Middle School held a protest on March 18 and signed a petition opposing the rules on leggings and yoga pants.


One of the posters held up by a young woman at the rally read, “Are my pants lowering your test scores?” A pertinent question, given that it hasn’t been proved any male classmate has suffered academically because of a girl’s preference in leg-covering-material.

Thirteen-year-old Sophie Hasty very rightly pointed out to the Evanston Review: “Not being able to wear leggings because it’s ‘too distracting for boys’ is giving us the impression we should be guilty for what guys do… We just want to be comfortable!”

A similar sentiment was expressed by 16-year-old Julia Cronin, who sits on the student advisory board, when she told the Boston Herald, “They let boys walk around school with their pants halfway down their butt and then they say girls look trashy when they’re wearing yoga pants and that it takes all the focus away from the guys and their school.”

Julia’s twin sister, Johannah, also spoke to the paper, saying that the ban was part of a culture where “men objectify women. And if they’re saying it distracts men, then they are saying that women are responsible for men’s behaviour. And that’s not true. That’s the men’s problem”.

Although it’s slightly worrying that these teen girls seem to have a better grasp on the broader cultural implications of the school’s policies than its administrators do, the girls are completely right.

Just like a woman is not ‘asking for it’ if she wears a short skirt and then gets cat called, harassed on the street or sexually assaulted, these teen girls are not being ‘too distracting’ if they wear leggings.

Their bodies are not ‘too distracting’, just because they are female.

If the male students of Haven Middle School are overly affected by their classmates clothing choices, then perhaps they are too easily distracted.

And they need to learn to take responsibility for their own eyeballs.

Now that’s something I would cheer for.

Follow @melissawellham.

Do you think the school was right to ban leggings as pants? Or would you be more supportive if they had banned them for being a crime against fashion?