Florida cheerleaders need exemption to wear skirts on game days

Cheerleaders in Seminole (Fla.) County high schools are getting to wear their skirts on game days, but it took a special exemption to a new strict dress code to maintain the longstanding high school tradition.

According to OrlandoSentinel.com, a new dress code in place in Seminole County would outlaw cheerleading skirts as too short to wear on campuses during the school day. The new dress code stipulates that "dresses, skirts and shorts must be at least mid-thigh or below in length," guidelines that fall under the category of eliminating clothing that is "sexually suggestive."

The disparity between allowing cheerleaders to wear short skirts and not other students was brought up by the mother of a Lake Brantley High School girl sent home for wearing a shirt that was deemed too short.

Area principals were able to circumvent the new dress code thanks to a provision that says principals at individual schools are allowed to interpret what apparel falls within acceptable terms of the new rules.

Fittingly, the schools' decision to grant a cheerleading uniform exemption was announced by a former Seminole High School cheerleader who now serves as a school district spokeswoman.

"It is tradition that they wear their uniforms on game day, like the football players wear their uniform shirts," said district spokeswoman Regina Klaers.

While today's decision grants leniency for cheerleaders, it's undetermined if other actions of school spirit will be shut down by the new dress code. The Sentinel points out that pajama day is a nearly universal homecoming week tradition, but pajamas are specifically outlawed as everyday wear under the new guidelines.

It stands to reason that themed days for different decades - 70s day with afros and bell bottoms and 80s day with cutoff jean shorts - might also run afoul of the "distracting garments" clause. With t-shirts promoting T-shirts that promote violence, alcohol, tobacco, sex or drugs also outlawed, any garments celebrating the Sex Pistols would be banned twice on name alone.

Still, that won't affect the county's cheerleaders, who will be able to promote spirit as they always have on game days: In stadiums and, before that, in classrooms.

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