Skirts Banned From Dress Code at San Diego Private Catholic High School

Faculty at Cathedral Catholic High School decided to do away with one article of clothing that appears to be involved in multiple dress code infractions – the skirt.

After issuing “thousands of hours of detention” to students modifying the length of uniform skirts, a San Diego private school has made the decision to ban skirts from its dress code.

Students at Cathedral Catholic High School learned about the new rules in an email from Principal Kevin Calkins, Ph.D. on Friday.

After explaining how the faculty has attempted to address the issue in the past, Calkins informed parents and students that skirts will no longer be an option, noting that “Dress code is a perennial challenge.”


“Male faculty feel uncomfortable addressing female students about the length of their skirts, and even female faculty have expressed frustration with the ongoing challenge of dress code," Calkins wrote.

Instead, female students will have the option of wearing pants, capri pants or Bermuda shorts. Male students have the option of wearing pants or shorts, according to the email.

One freshman student reached out to NBC 7 explaining that the decision has caused “quite an uproar on many levels.”

In response, the students have created a petition on change.org. As of Monday morning, 2,384 people have signed the petition. 

One person commented that the way the decision was handled is an issue.

“There is a better way to address the concerns over teachers being uncomfortable enforcing the skirt length rule than just arbitrarily removing the problem,” Leah Smith wrote. “CCHS can do better - open up a dialogue before making a decision and show our kids how we should be handling these tough issues as adults.”


Another person said the options offered to female students are less than attractive.

“Girls should not be forced to wear gross men’s clothing. In private school you already can’t wear what you want... now you can’t even wear a skirt?!?!” Molly Miller wrote.

Several other people pointed out the cost of replacing skirts bought over previous school years.

Students also organized a peaceful protest for 7:15 a.m. Tuesday on the sidewalk in front of the school. Images posted on social media encouraged students to bring signs.

Cathedral Catholic High School is a private school located in Carmel Valley serving approximately 1,600 students in grades 9-12. The school charges an annual tuition of $18,500.

The high school is not the only one struggling with how to manage skirts as part of the dress code. 

Two years ago, another local private school Francis Parker School eliminated the clothing type from its dress code.

NBC 7 reached out to the faculty at Francis Parker and received a statement that said, in part, "In fall of 2017, after many months of meetings and discussions with School leadership, the Parents Association, Grade Level Deans, families, and students, Parker’s dress code was updated to remove skorts from the dress code offering. The change was made in an effort to address issues of compliance, clothing choice, and fit with a sensitivity to and understanding of different body types and needs," Christen Tedrow-Harrison, Director of Diversity and Inclusion. 

Here is the full text of the email sent by Cathedral Catholic HS Principal Kevin Calkins, Ph.D.: 

Dear Students:

I am writing to communicate some changes to the school dress code starting with the 2019-2020 school year. The most significant change is that skirts will no longer be an option for girls.

Dress code is a perennial challenge. The dress code exists for at least three good reasons: to foster unity, to encourage modesty, and to minimize pressure to conform to particular styles or clothing brands. Basically we hope to foster a faith-based environment where students are focused on learning and not on outward appearances.

NBC 7 Reporter Audra Stafford holds up a skirt from the school's dress code. At issue are the modifications made by some students to raise the skirt's length.

The main challenge with dress code has been the length of girls’ skirts. The school has made many attempts to rectify this challenge. The administration has worked with the Parent Association, has issued thousands of hours of detention, has made school-wide announcements (e.g., CCTV, orientations), and has worked with students one-on-one. None of this has had the desired effect of maintaining an overall modest skirt length in compliance with the dress code. The school heard feedback that part of the issue is that the skirts offered by Dennis Uniform did not fit the variety of girls’ bodies who attend Cathedral. We then decided to allow greater flexibility in where students could purchase skirts, so long as they followed the minimum guidelines. That did not work either. The administration eventually opted against strictly enforcing current dress code guidelines because of the negative effect that could have on the environment. Male faculty feel uncomfortable addressing female students about the length of their skirts, and even female faculty have expressed frustration with the ongoing challenge of dress code. There are challenges with boys too, but nothing that will require a change in options.

Instead of skirts, girls will be allowed to wear the following:

· Pants

· Capri pants

· Bermuda shorts

The color options for the above-mentioned are navy blue, black, or khaki. Denim fabric, leggings, and athletic wear are not allowed. Boys will also have the new color options for pants/shorts. In addition to holding boys more accountable to dress code guidelines (e.g., length of hair or facial hair), and implementing a restorative approach to dealing with dress code violations, there will be no other changes next year.

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