Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I like this kid.

Chris Whitehead goes to school near Cambridge, England. He's not a terribly rebellious boy, but he's decided to take a stand. His (apparently public) school's dress code does not allow shorts, even during the hot months of spring and summer. And of course they're not allowed to wear jeans - they must wear "plain black tailored trousers or knee-length skirts without slits". And fitted trousers happen to be about the most miserable thing possible to wear when it's about 70 degrees out. You sweat, they stick, they ride up, and it's just plain uncomfortable - and hard to concentrate.

So, he and other students are justifiably angry over the capricious policy. But young Mr. Whitehead doesn't want to actually break the rules - being uncomfortable is one thing, but getting in trouble is another. So he looks for a loophole, and he finds it. The section of the dress code about trousers and skirts does not specify gender, because that would be discriminatory. But girls can, by society's arbitrary rules change into leg-baring skirts, while boys cannot.

Well, forget those unwritten rules, because Chris Whitehead is wearing a skirt. Knee-length black skirt, borrowed from his sister. He's a bit more comfortable, and the administration is taking notice (hopefully) that students are dissatisfied.

The astute reader will notice I did not mention his age. He's in Year Eight - twelve years old. That's roughly eighth grade here in the US, and it happens to be middle school. Middle schoolers are sadists. A large number are bullies, including those that are well-adjusted before and after. Any boy showing signs of being gay/bisexual or effeminate, or otherwise not conforming to the heterosexual hyper-masculine paradigm is a ripe target. This is a brave young man.

Chris Whitehead is standing up to authority, and he's doing so in an excellent way. I am very pleased also to see that his parents are publicly in support of his decision - and so are many of his peers.

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