September 13, 2011
When San Jose (Calif.) Piedmont Hills High School principal Traci Williams decided to actually enforce a longstanding ban on miniskirts at the school, her school-wide dress-code sweeps found a very surprised target: The school's cheerleading squad. Now members of the Pirates' spirit team are facing a season wearing sweatpants under their uniforms during school to avoid violating the dress code, a measure that they're none too pleased about.
As first reported by the San Jose Mercury News, the move to make cheerleaders wear sweats under their uniforms was enforced so they could fall in line with a dress code that requires all skirts or shorts to stretch lower than mid-thigh. The Piedmont Hills cheerleaders' custom-tailored uniforms came relatively close to achieving that benchmark, but Williams declared that they didn't quite hit it, leading to the necessary adjustments.
Administrators feel that they have a valid reason for stepping up enforcement of the miniskirt ban. While standards in teen clothing in school can vary widely from state to state, Williams described the attire worn by many of the students at Piedmont Hills as ranging from slightly inappropriate to nearly lewd.
"Pockets are hanging out," Williams told the Mercury News of skirts that had been identified in recent clothing sweeps. "Cheeks are hanging out. We don't want them bending over."
While the cheerleaders feel the school administration should ease up on its enforcement of the rule, the Mercury News reported that plenty of other students had been sent into a special building until their parents arrived with a change of clothes, all because their skirts were deemed to be too skimpy.
The difference, of course, is that the Pirates cheerleaders are wearing a custom-tailored, $300 school uniform during classes, all as part of a drive to improve school spirit on game days.
"This is really unfair to us," Piedmont Hills senior cheerleader Antonia Bavilacqua told the Mercury News. The skirts are still OK for games, just not during school. "We're just sad and hurt. It's our school colors and spirit. And they're making us feel like outcasts."
Now Bavilacqua is leading a charge to try and get Williams to ease up on her enforcement of the rule, citing both a prior case in Florida, common sense (another cheerleader cited the weather concerns, saying "It's 95 degrees outside"), and fashion sense as reasons to allow the cheerleaders to wear their uniforms in school one day a week.
Yet it doesn't appear that Williams has any plans of budging on her ruling, at least for the moment. If anything, her commitment to enforcing the miniskirt ban for cheerleaders and the rest of the school was only reinforced after attending the Pirates' football game against Evergreen Valley (Calif.) High last week and surveying their cheerleaders' uniforms.
"Their skirts were mid-thigh," Williams said. "If our cheerleader's skirts were that long, this wouldn't be an issue."