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By Keely Burks

I am like a lot of eighth grade students. I try to do my best in class, I like sports and playing outside, and I regularly go to Bible classes. I also believe in standing up for myself and others. So last year, along with some friends, I created a petition to ask my school to change its policy that says girls have to wear skirts to school or risk being punished.

I go to Charter Day School, a K-8 public charter school in Leland, North Carolina. Like a lot of schools, Charter Day has a uniform policy. That policy says that all female students have to wear skirts that are “knee-length or longer” and that we can’t wear pants or shorts, except on gym days. Boys are able to wear pants and shorts every day. My friends and I got more than 100 signatures on our petition, but it was taken from us by a teacher and we never got it back. Some parents asked about changing the policy, but the school said that making girls wear skirts is supposed to promote “chivalry” and “traditional values.”   

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LELAND, N.C. – The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of North Carolina, and the law firm of Ellis and Winters LLP filed a federal court challenge yesterday on behalf of three Brunswick County students against a section of a K-8 public charter school’s dress code that requires female students to wear skirts to school and prohibits them from wearing pants or shorts.

In the lawsuit against Charter Day School in Leland, North Carolina, three students – ages 5, 10, and 14 – say that wearing skirts restricts their movement, inhibits them in school situations such as playing at recess or sitting on the floor, and causes them to feel uncomfortably cold in the winter.

“There are a lot of situations – whether it’s playing outside, sitting on the floor, or trying to stay warm in the cold – where wearing a skirt makes my daughter uncomfortable and distracts her from learning,” said Bonnie Peltier, the mother of a 5-year-old Charter Day School student who is a client in the case. “I’m not against a dress code, but it’s 2016. Girls should be allowed to wear pants as part of the dress code. As a parent, nothing is more important to me than my children, and I don’t want an outdated policy to get in the way of their education.”

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In 2009, we worked to help pass the Healthy Youth Act, an effective measure that has increased access to comprehensive sex education for North Carolina students, parents, and schools and has contributed to a steady decrease in teen pregnancies across the state.

But now state lawmakers are working to weaken the Healthy Youth Act by removing the requirement that sex ed be taught by recognized sexual health experts. SB 279 could even enable the return of abstinence-only education in our public schools.

Tell your House representative to reject any changes to the Healthy Youth Act and oppose SB 279!

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Message of Hope

Posted on in Racial Justice

Last week, a noose was found hanging from a tree in front of the student union at Duke University. Campus officials and students have rallied to condemn the act, and a student has since admitted to hanging the noose, according to officials.

In the aftermath, ACLU-NC Executive Director Jennifer Rudinger, a Duke alumna, wrote the following letter to the editor to the Duke Chronicle:

"As a 1991 graduate of Duke University, I read with profound sadness the reports of recent racial tensions on campus that culminated with the discovery of a noose hanging in front of the Bryan Center in the wee hours of April 1. The fact that some students of color have expressed that they feel unwelcome and unsafe needs to be taken very seriously. As difficult and painful as it can be for the dominant culture to look critically at our own reflection in the mirror, recognition of the microaggressions, biases, denial and in some cases, overt hate that has been exposed here is something that needs to happen not only at Duke but throughout the nation.

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