Hugim School in Haifa
Hugim School in Haifa. “We just want the girls to have self-respect.” Photo by Doron Golan
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A Haifa school is banning girls from wearing leggings as pants this year, eliciting some backlash from students but few public complaints from parents.

Some of the female students at Haifa's Hugim School, which includes a middle school and a high school, said they objected to the dress code and blamed their school's parents association for the change, said association head Smadar Levi.

The girls had brought their complaints to Levi's son, a 12th-grader at the school, she said.

But Levi said it was the administration, not the parents association, that amended the dress code, though she supports the move as a way to show students that they must conform to certain social expectations.

"As part of the educational process, you learn that certain places have dress codes, the way you expect people in a bank to wear a tie," she said. "I don't get what the fuss is about. I think that just as the school banned flip-flops and tube tops, the school has now banned leggings. There's a code of conduct in the police and the army, too. No one means to hurt the girls with this measure."

"As far as I'm concerned," she said, "leggings are problematic, just as miniskirts are."

Other clothing items the school has banned include cut-off shirts, tank tops and short shorts. Students must attend school wearing a T-shirt with the school's logo and solid-colored pants.

Despite this year's ban on leggings, the skintight pants are allowed in gym class.

The change to the dress code was made just a few days before school started last week, and some parents have asked Levi if their daughters may wear leggings in the early days of school to give the parents a chance to buy different kinds of pants. But she said they have not complained about the overall decision to ban leggings.

"We recently noticed more and more girls wearing leggings and felt it was inappropriate for school and unsuited to them, so we decided to exclude them from the dress code," said the principal, Sharon Kalujny. "I don't wear leggings to work either. Many workplaces have a dress code. We really just want the girls to have self-respect."

Asked whether the school was saying leggings are provocative or unflattering, Kalujny remained somewhat elusive, saying: "Adults understand what I'm getting at. Leggings are just inappropriate."