The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a North Carolina public charter school’s defense of its blocked requirement that girls wear skirts – a student uniform policy that its founder explained is aimed at treating women like “fragile vessels.”
Turning away an appeal by Charter Day School Inc, the justices left in place a lower court’s decision that the dress code discriminated against students based on gender in violation the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment promise of equal protection under the law.
The school said its uniform policy was designed to foster classroom discipline and “mutual respect between boys and girls.” The school’s founder, Baker Mitchell, told parents that the policy was aimed at preserving chivalry, with women “regarded as a fragile vessel that men are supposed to take care of and honor,” according to court papers.
Girls at public charter schools have the same constitutional rights as their peers at other public schools – including the freedom to wear pants. We will continue to fight for all girls to learn in safe and equal schools,” she said.
Mitchell expressed disappointment in Monday’s decision. He warned of ripple effects for charter schools, “threatening their autonomy, subjecting them to the same rules, regulations and political machinations that have crippled government-run school systems, and worst of all, leaving many low-income parents and students with no option other than poorly performing district schools.”
In its appeal, the school said the 4th Circuit’s ruling undermined charter schools by treating “private operators as the constitutional equivalent of government-run schools, squelching innovation and restricting parental choice.”