A Tasmanian Catholic high school forced to apologize after a group of 8th grade students were ordered to kneel down to have their skirts measured because the length of their dresses “distracted” teachers and male students.
Marist Regional College, in the coastal town of Burnie, sent a letter of apology Monday afternoon after complaints from several parents, who called the incident “outdated” and “humiliating,” the lawyer reported.
Several parents told The Advocate that a group of girls were removed from the classroom and taken to a common area where they were asked to kneel down and measure the length of their skirts.
A teacher involved in the incident informed one of the girls that the length of her skirt was “distracting” for teachers and older students.
School principal Gregg Sharman confirmed the incident had occurred and said he was “extremely disappointed” with the letter to parents.
“We do not condone or support these actions and they do not correspond to our college uniform and presentation policy,” he wrote in the letter.
â€œThe college apologizes unreservedly to the students and families concerned. We want to reassure the community that this practice is unacceptable and is not a practice that will continue. “
The lawyer reported that the apology came after complaints from parents and requests for meetings with senior officials, which were denied by Sharman.
The secondary school, which is part of a network of Catholic secondary schools across Australia, is co-ed with a strong emphasis on religious education.
As stated in its uniform and presentation policy, the college requires girls’ dresses and skirts to be “of an appropriate length … a good guide is the width of one hand above the knee.”
Any dress or skirt “deemed too short” must be “fitted in a timely manner”.
â€œThe values â€‹â€‹of the Marist Regional College call us to be a Catholic community in which all are treated on an equal footing,â€ says its policy.
â€œCollectively, we play a vital role in helping our youth meet uniform expectations, thereby supporting broader attempts to strengthen social cohesion across the college. “
A former student who left school in 2006 and wished to remain anonymous told Guardian Australia that she had been threatened with having her skirt measured for “distracting” male teachers and students.
“My response at the time was to hope that the parents of young boys raise them to understand consent,” she said.
â€œA lot of people I knew from there had so much trouble with it,â€ she said.
Sharman has been approached by Guardian Australia for comment.