Skirting the issue: parents protest Catholic school replacing skirts with pants

At one Catholic school in Connecticut, those plaid skirts we remember are becoming a thing of the past:

Parents at St. Bernadette Catholic School are up in arms over a new uniform policy that eliminates the trademark plaid skirts and jumpers for little girls in favor of less traditional female garb — khaki pants.

The new policy, which some parents argue will cost them more money because the current uniforms have to be thrown out, was announced in December and will go into effect next fall.

In a letter to parents, Principal Sherry Steines explained the policy change and said it was the result of “many conversations and input from the school survey.” The other big uniform change is navy blue polo shirts instead of white ones.

“Many parents have voiced opinions about the inability to keep the white shirts clean,” Steines wrote in the letter.

But some parents say they never took a school survey or had input about the uniforms. They say the change in uniform policy is throwing tradition out the window and they are not happy about it. A petition was circulated and garnered about 20 signatures from parents asking for a meeting with Steines about the issue. That meeting was never granted, the parents say.

“I would like to carry on with the beautiful tradition that the kids wear their proud uniform,” said one mother, who asked not to be named.

The uniform change is partly in response to older girls “rolling their skirts” to make them shorter. But several mothers argued the school should simply disallow skirt rolling, like it prohibits nail polish and flashy jewelry, rather than ban skirts.

This week, parents waiting outside to pick up their kids when school let out generally opposed the change.

Read more.


  1. In the three Catholic schools in my area girls are allowed to wear the traditional uniform or navy blue slacks with a color approved shirt. Red, navy blue, and white shirts are allowed. Last year the “liberal” school allowed children to wear pastel blue and pastel yellow in addition to the darker colors.

  2. Why not introduce the pants and phase the older plaid skirts out to address the ‘replacement cost’ argument?

    Some parents will complain that navy blue shirts will fade in the wash.

    You can’t please all of the people all of the time – and you can’t please some people any of the time :)

  3. I went through 12 years of Catholic schools, and I’ve never understood how subjecting young women to hideous fashion is supposed to aid in their formation. These plaid skirts look like a nightmare hybrid of Hello Kitty and the scraps from a Scottish great kilt. Don’t tell me it has to do with modestly. This hackneyed “Catholic school girl” look has attracted a HUGE fetish community around fantasies of corrupting innocence. Dress codes similar to business casual should be sufficient to the task at hand.

  4. I just can’t believe girls are still rolling their skirts. Flashbacks of evading hall monitors with rulers! And it’s interesting that this blog has been the source of so much side information on American sexual proclivities: a few weeks ago it was folks finding out that cougars aren’t just mountain lions, and now it’s the fetishization of Catholic school uniforms.

  5. Kenneth, it’s a loser’s game abandoning one’s identity and innocent practices over and over simply because the enemy attacks relentlessly. You may think that burning a village is an effective means of saving it; happily the Church knows that leaving her children bereft, homeless, and disoriented is no way to care for them.

  6. Perhaps the uniforms deter the competition about dress that would inevitably ensue if girls were to dress as they wished. With uniforms they don’t have to worry about being outdone or what to wear each day. It has nothing to do with their formation academically or modesty. Stop reading into things that aren’t there. After 12 years Catholic school you should know the reasons behind uniforms. Even some public schools in NYC have adopted them.

  7. Twelve years of wearing a Catholic uniform skirt – rolling is a time honored tradition.

  8. The four Catholic schools where we live now (3 grade schools and 1 high school) have had both the “formal” and “casual” uniforms for many years. The formal ones are mandated for school Masses, interscholastic meets, and that kind of thing. Otherwise the more casual look is allowed. Seems to work pretty well.
    I can remember rolling my skirt back in the ’60′s. Sure would have been nice to be able to wear slacks on the cold winter days. I went to public high school, back then they didn’t allow slacks either.

  9. pagansister says:

    The Catholic school I spent 10 years teaching in allowed tan slacks (from certain stores that had the right color tan) and polo shirts for the girls during the winter months—December thru March, then it was back to the regular uniform skirts with blouses for the upper grades and one piece uniforms for the younger one, with blouses. Yes the upper grades tried rolling their skirts too—many didn’t get away with it. :o)

  10. I have a teenage daughter in Catholic school, and they still roll the skirts. Faculty frequently checks skirt length by sight and tell the girls to unroll their skirts. My daughter prefers her plaid skirt over the khaki skirts/skorts and refuses to wear the khaki shorts or pants. Most of her classmates prefer the skirts. They are required on Mass days and other “formal” occasions, but the girls typically wear them on regular days, too.

    By the way, even away from school, girls roll the waistband of soccer shorts, sweatpants, and anything with an elastic waist.

  11. And what happens to the girls who don’t feel comfortable in pants? I’m one. I have a few pairs, but seldom wear them, as I’ve never felt comfortable in them. And, contrary to apparent “received wisdom” pants aren’t warm in the winter, unless you wear long johns under them. The wind just shoots up your legs. Tights and a skirt are actually warmer. This doesn’t sound like a good thing to me.

  12. What would be great is if the parents would also tell their daughters how to sit like a young lady in their skirts. “But, Ms. Dubh, I’m wearing shorts!” “Don’t care, you’re wearing a skirt! Sit as if you aren’t wearing shorts under it.” *shakes my head*

    Sure, change to khaki pants, wait and see how tight some of your 7th and 8th grade girls can get them. Just keep tryin’ to teach modesty.

  13. Oh the never ending desire to tinker with what works. The mass, celibacy, church teaching, and now, school girls’ uniforms. There should be a Catholic Tinkerers Society.

  14. I have taught in elementary and high schools, and I feel very uncomfortable asking girls/young women to unroll their skirts. Perhaps the skirt should go down to the floor?

  15. It’s the same pattern that Burberrys uses. Don’t tell me it’s a “hideous” Scottish kilt unless you say the same thing about Burberrys.

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