Several Tampa Bay-area high schools are curbing or outright banning their own cheerleading uniforms from the classroom because the garb doesn’t adhere to the schools’ dress codes, reports the Tampa Bay Times.
In at least some cases, the sleeveless tops and skimpy skirts didn’t meet the dress code last year, either, if you want to get all technical about it. However, school officials looked the other way during football season, which tends to be a big deal in Florida.
This year, the schools have adopted generally stricter dress codes. As a result, school officials say they feel compelled to enforce the new rules upon everyone—even cheerleaders.
The schools with the new rules include Countryside High in Clearwater, Boca Ciega High in Gulfport and Gibbs High and St. Petersburg High in St. Petersburg.
At Gibbs, cheerleaders have to wear t-shirts under their tops while they are at school. They can’t wear their skirts at all in class.
“It’s appropriate for them when doing that activity, but a school has another purpose, and that’s academics,” Gibbs principal Stephanie Adkinson told the Times.
At St. Petersburg, the cheerleaders have a few different skirts. This year, they are only allowed to wear a longer skirt during class. They must also wear a jacket.
Some parents are unhappy with the new rules.
“If it’s an approved school uniform — which it was approved, by the administration, years ago — why is it out of dress code?” incredulous parent Christine Johnson asked a Times reporter. “And why can they wear it in front of thousands of people at a football field if they can’t wear it on game day at school?”
Johnson’s daughter is a varsity cheerleader at Countryside.
Countryside cheerleader Jeana Fraser also expressed her disappointed about the new rules to ABC Action News.
“It’s a uniform. Football wears their jerseys,” Fraser observed. “Softball gets to wear their, umm, athletic pants and jerseys.”
Fraser’s father added that his daughter was astonished to learn that her uniform had become “suddenly too vulgar,” according to the Times.
Countryside principal Gary Schlereth said he is seeking a compromise solution that will appease everyone. However, he is standing firm on his school’s position that cheerleaders can no longer wear their uniforms on game days because it’s a double standard.
“A parent looks at their son or daughter getting ‘dress coded’ for wearing something short, then they look at the cheerleading uniform and they say, ‘What about that?’” the principal said.