Rationale for the Dress Code Skirt Policy

As a School, we are welcoming of a diversity of families’ values and styles. At the same time, we seek to maintain a community built on shared standards, and when a family chooses to send their child to Windward, they agree to participate in our community according to our policies and expectations. We are also cognizant that individuals and especially children are constantly navigating the tensions between communal standards, cultural norms, social pressures to “fit in”, and the individual’s autonomy to choose clothing that they enjoy. With all of these competing interests in mind, we decide on our dress code standards with careful intentionality.

Firstly, we want to be clear that we appreciate the style of skirts and encourage students to wear skirts if they wish (with tights, leggings underneath them). We also want to be clear that this rule requiring tights, leggings, or bike shorts under skirts has no purpose to “body shame” children or sexualize their bodies by making them cover themselves up. Clothing that leaves students’ upper legs exposed leads to two concerns that we seek to mitigate:

  • Our experience is that when students wear short skirts that leave their upper legs exposed, they move through their school day with a nearly constant focus and attention on pulling down their skirts to cover their legs. Moving through the halls, walking up stairwells, sitting in chairs or on the floor, playing in gym—students are constantly attentive to the lack of clothing covering their bodies. Just as we do not allow cell phones to be used in school, we want our students to engage in their social, academic, and active lives in school without unnecessary distractions.
  • It is also our experience that students wearing short skirts that leave their legs exposed often, intentionally or unintentionally, take themselves out of active play. And for the students who choose to engage actively while wearing short skirts, the lack of clothing between themselves and the world leaves them far more exposed and vulnerable during play. Recess is a valuable opportunity for students to choose how they wish to engage with each other. Sitting and talking with friends is a beautiful way to pass the time, but we do not want a child’s clothing to be a factor in these choices. Students in clothing that covers their upper legs are more protected in all ways: they can sit, pivot and react without taking anything garment-related into account. They can get up, sit down, run, and play while being appropriately covered and protected from the elements.

In enforcing this policy, we are committed to minimizing the discomfort that a student might feel when they are out of dress code. We keep on hand a variety of clean, loaner clothes that a student might be given to wear if they have no other alternatives, and the School leadership will call home to discuss the matter with parents or guardians whose partnership we seek in enforcing the dress code.