1969 January 8

Girls Can Wear Pants to School


Two 15-year-old girls at the all-girls Washington Irving High School in New York City wore slacks to school without fear of punishment, as did about 25 percent of the other students. A year earlier, the two had spent the day in the Dean’s office because they had worn slacks in violation of school policy. Their challenge finally resulted in a new policy allowing slacks. One student, on this day, reported that the “battle isn’t over yet,” reporting that teachers still gave girls “dirty looks” if they did not dress “ladylike.” The state Commissioner of Education had ruled in 1966 that school officials have no power to “compel students to wear a particular kind of dress.”

In the mid-to-late 1960s, there were many battles in public schools over students’ rights, including the right to engage in protests, to wear long hair, and over clothing for both boys and girls. The most famous case went to the Supreme Court, which affirmed Mary Beth Tinker’s First Amendment right to wear an anti-Vietnam War arm band, in Tinker v. Des Moines, on February 24, 1969.

Learn more about students’ rights in today’s world: https://www.aclu.org/technology-and-liberty/students

Learn more: Tom Hayden, The Long Sixties: 1960 to Barack Obama (2009)

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