Boys Wear Skirts To Protest Sexism and Discrimination
By Brisa Miranda
On October 9th, a group of 100 schoolboys from Collège Nouvelles in Canada, wore skirts to protest against systematic forms of maltreatment against queer students and any dress code that impedes freedom of expression for queer students. Girls who attend the school are required to wear skirts that are no shorter than 10 cm above the knee. There is no interchangeable regulation for clothing, for example, shorts,` often worn to school by boys.
Sixteen-year-old Zachary Paulin spread the news that he planned to wear a skirt to school on October 9th. Fortunately, Zachary’s protest was met with positive feedback. He had no idea that his local protest would gather the amount of support and attention it had acquired. Paulin told CBC News about his plan with his 30 classmates and that he was “pleasantly surprised” when 100 students joined him in the protest.
Zachary told the CBC he was motivated after viewing similar protests by students in Montreal-area schools who objected to the discrepancy in dress code regulations between male and female students. The boys in those demonstrations wore skirts to school because they said the skirt length requirement for girls is sexist and biased while there is no similar directive for the length of the shorts worn by boys. Students of Montreal were objecting to the dress code itself, but Zachary Paulin saw an opportunity to raise awareness of systems of oppression inherent in a dress code based upon binary concepts of gender and sexuality.
Zachary articulated the protest on Instagram: “By wearing a skirt, we are united and together against the sexualization of women and we’re sending a message against toxic masculinity, that’s keeping boys from being who they truly are, without judgment.” He mentioned, “The fact that a boy wears a skirt is a sign of resilience, solidarity, and support to the intersectional battle for gender equality.”
Paulin pointed out that “it’s not a big deal” when “a woman decides to wear a suit or pants, clothes associated with masculinity.” The reaction of society is entirely different “the moment a man will do anything remotely feminine, whether it is to put nail polish, makeup” or, in the case of Zachary and his fellow students, a skirt. “Fingers are pointed and he gets insulted,” he pursues, “People will say that he’s not a ‘real man’ and they will automatically assume his sexuality.”
In spite of the compelling message behind the protest, Zachary learned more than he probably expected by wearing a skirt for the day. Paulin told CBC News that he aspires to soon debate with the school principal to discuss changes in the policy to make their learning environment more inclusive.