RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A federal appeals court has ruled that a North Carolina charter school violated female students’ constitutional rights by requiring them to wear skirts.
A majority of the full U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals found that the policy at Charter Day School in Leland violated the girls’ constitutional equal protection rights.
The court sided with parents who had argued that their daughters were put at a disadvantage by the requirement.
“I’m glad the girls at Charter Day School will now be able to learn, move, and play on equal terms as the boys in school,” said Bonnie Peltier, the mother of a former Charter Day School student who was a client in the case. “In 2022, girls shouldn’t have to decide between wearing something that makes them uncomfortable or missing classroom instruction time.”
Public schools have long been banned from enacting such mandates, but the court’s majority concluded that public charter schools are also “state actors” and are therefore subject to the Constitution’s equal protection clause.
"We appreciate that the court recognized that the public charter school’s archaic dress code policy is discriminatory and violates the Constitution and that it may well also violate Title IX,” said Irena Como, deputy legal director at the ACLU of North Carolina, which brought the lawsuit.