School faces backlash for allegedly describing female gym uniforms as ‘distracting’

A school in Carlow, Ireland is dealing with backlash after female students were told to avoid wearing certain “distracting” clothing during a recent assembly.

Students as young as 12 years old at Carlow Presentation College were told that they weren’t allowed to wear tight tracksuit bottoms or leggings to gym class. They were also told they couldn’t wear any form-fitting pullover sweaters during the day in class.

Initially, it was reported that the school made its request because some clothing choices were “distracting” staff members, particularly male teachers. Students said they left the meeting feeling “disgusted and unsafe.”

According to Extra.Ie, one mother said her 12-year-old was told: “No ankles, no knees, no collarbones … we’re not allowed to show any skin ever, basically.”

“The older girl, she’s 16, they were told they should have more respect for themselves,” the mother added. “Basically, they [were told that they] were using their bodies to distract the male teachers.”

“If these so-called male teachers can get distracted by 12-to-18-year-old girls, they should not be teaching,” another mother chimed in. “We are trying to bring our children up in a way that they are not ashamed of their bodies.”

The school’s principal, Ray Murray, has since contacted local media to insist that the assembly was about asking students to adhere to the dress code.

“It was becoming a fashion show,” Murray told RTE’s Morning Ireland news program. “The PE uniform was not being worn properly more and more so by [the girls], particularly in terms of instead of tracksuit bottoms, it was a variety of garments, more so leggings … It was not an issue with the boys.”

According to a student-run petition formed in response to the assembly, the female students were told to stop wearing leggings because it showed off the “female anatomy.”

“This is appalling, [the] majority of students are 12-18 years old and should not feel sexualized by their teachers who they are meant to feel safe around,” the petition states. “Why should female students feel oppressed over a body part that everyone has?”

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