Carlow Secondary School in dispute over female students dress code

Shauna Ledwidge

Female students in a secondary school in County Carlow were told by teachers not to wear tight fitting clothing to PE classes.

A number of rumours emerged online that female students were told their choice of clothing for PE days was “distracting” for male staff.

Due to Covid-19 students have been wearing their PE uniform to school as they are not allowed access to the changing rooms.

Presentation College Carlow held a number of assemblies about appropriate attire for PE classes and female students were asked not to wear leggings into school. Male students were not present at these assemblies.

Irish Secondary Schools Student Union said the incident reflects the sexism that women and girls face on a daily basis.

Following the controversy, Taoiseach Michael Martin said the Minster for Education Norma Foley would receive a report on the events that took place in the secondary school.

Students and parents expressed their anger over the comments made. Speaking to RTE News one parent said her daughter was told she was not allowed to wear leggings or tight tracksuit bottoms into school.

The school released a statement on their website which said students are reminded regularly of the schools rules and uniform policy at assemblies.

“The school continues to look after the pastoral care needs of all students through its excellent Pastoral Care/Student Support systems in school. Any queries in relation to the above from parents of students will be dealt with in the normal way through the usual school channels.”

Ray Murray, principal of Presentation College denied any inappropriate remarks were made to students at these assemblies. He told RTE’s Morning Ireland Programme that female students were the only ones reminded of the schools uniform policy as they were mainly the ones not complying with it and some were treating PE days like a “fashion show.”

Mr Murray also said that the school only spoke to the girls and not the boys as the issue was “primarily with the girls.” He said some of the comments circulating on social media regarding what was said at the assemblies was damaging to school staff.

Mary O’Driscoll, the chairwoman of the parents council at Presentation College said the school held assemblies to reiterate the uniform policy. Ms O’Driscoll told the Irish Times that she asked female students present at the assemblies if any inappropriate remarks were made about their clothing being a distraction to male staff. She said they denied anything was said.

Shauna Ledwidge 

Image credit: School Uniform Direct