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Op-Ed

Fashion nonsense

June 20, 2022

A very split Fourth Circuit rules that school girls don't have to wear skirts. The country remains divided on fashion and chivalry.

Milt Policzer

By Milt Policzer

Courthouse News columnist; racehorse owner and breeder; one of those guys who always got picked last.

Those of you who have ever had an argument with a parent or child over what to wear will empathize with the judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit who split 10-6 last week on whether female students should be required to wear skirts at a charter school.

It wasn’t even that simple a split — there were five separate written opinions. When it comes to fashion, everyone’s got an opinion.

The rulings in Peltier v. Charter Day School are 103 pages long, and I won’t attempt to summarize them because I’m far too lazy and I don’t want to spoil them for you. But if you haven’t gotten to it yet, here are just a few highlights.

First off, the lengthy list of amici supporting the kids who don’t want to wear skirts is impressive. Aside from the typical players like the ACLU, they include Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues and the Society for Research on Adolescence. Clearly, this issue has been infuriating a lot of people.

I thought that was odd until I read the first sentence of the majority opinion: “Charter Day School (CDS), a public charter in North Carolina, requires female students to wear skirts to school based on the view that girls are ‘fragile vessels’ deserving of ‘gentle’ treatment by boys.”

Because the girls will be roughed up if they wear pants? Or mistaken for boys? Or boys will be so revolted by the sight of legs that they’ll keep their distance?

Aren’t women harassed no matter what they’re wearing?

Boys, by the way, have to wear shorts or pants. Stay tuned for litigation by boys who want to wear kilts.

It gets weirder — or maybe just more Southern. After a parent complained about the policy, the school owner responded with a statement that trustees and school supporters “were determined to preserve chivalry and respect among young women and men in this school of choice. For example, young men were to hold the door open for the young ladies and to carry an umbrella, should it be needed. Ma’am and sir were to be the preferred forms of address.”

Imagine this happening in any school.

And then there’s this from one of the dissenters: “To a great many people, dress codes represent an ideal of chivalry that is not patronizing to women, but appreciative and respectful of them. ... ‘Chivalry’ harkens to the age of knighthood, defined as ‘the brave, honourable, and courteous character attributed to the ideal knight… What the knights bestowed upon their ladies fair at the end of a tournament has become the bouquet of roses extended on stage at the close of an opera.”

The arts and P.E. classes at this school must be intense.

For what it’s worth…. Four of the five female Fourth Circuit judges sided with the anti-skirt majority. The fifth was appointed by a certain insurrectionist former president.

The dissenter who loves chivalry was appointed to the circuit bench in 1984 by Ronald Reagan.

Feel free to draw your own conclusions.

Menacing sleep? Karens are getting out of hand.

I’ve seen a whole lot of discrimination lawsuits over the years, but one filed in federal court in Illinois last week may be one of the strangest. An African American man named Terrance Hines sued United Airlines after the flight to Los Angeles he was on was prematurely stopped in Denver so that he could be kicked off the plane.

Why?

Well, at least according to the complaint, Hines had no idea because he’d been sleeping. Denver police officers at the airport didn’t know either. A United Airlines employee finally let him know that “an approximately 50-year-old Caucasian female” he’d been sitting next to complained that he’d been leaning against her. Apparently, she didn’t know that it was possible to wake him up.

Hines was not only kicked off the flight, but United, according to the suit, refused to give him a refund and banned him from future flights. My guess is that he’s not that unhappy about the ban part.

There was one other significant piece of damage that you don’t see in your common everyday discrimination lawsuit. It seems that Hines was going to Los Angeles to buy a French bulldog puppy from a breeder for $10,000.

He didn’t get the puppy.

That alone should be worth some serious damages.

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