School in Mechelen prohibits long skirts

Summary

The Ursulinen school in Mechelen has banned the wearing of long skirts for its students, which the Antwerp intercultural association says unfairly targets Muslim girls

Safety measure, says school

The Catholic school of Ursulinen Mechelen has prohibited the wearing of long skirts, according to the intercultural association Kif Kif. According to the Antwerp association, the measure is directed at Muslim girls, who are asked to roll up their skirts when they arrive at school. Headscarves were banned by the school previously.

“Since more Muslim girls started to wear long skirts or dresses, the school has prohibited them, on the pretext of ensuring the safety of students,” stated Kif Kif. “High heels strangely enough are not covered by the measure.”

According to Kif Kif, the school responded to student complaints by emphasising that all forms of religious expression are banned at school. The school released a statement yesterday that said that Kif Kif is spreading “incorrect information” and referred to its regulations, which have been approved by the school council. The regulation states that students should not wear clothing that impedes their freedom of movement and that can cause them to “stumble”.

Education minister Hilde Crevits pointed to the autonomy of schools to take such a decision. The Catholic education network (VSKO), meanwhile, stated that it had not received any complaint on the matter but emphasised that the school’s regulation should apply to all students. “It shouldn’t focus on one certain population group and should not discriminate,” the network said.

 

photo by Herwig Vergult/BELGA