Students Speak Out

November 22, 2019
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Keely Burks lives in North Carolina. When she was 14, her school had a uniform policy. It said girls had to wear skirts to school. They were not allowed to wear pants or shorts. Gym class was the only exception.

Many schools require students to wear uniforms. Others have a dress code. Schools say these rules keep the focus on learning, but some students say the rules are unfair.

Keely was one of those students. She wanted to wear pants. Skirts are hard to move around in, she thought. And her legs got cold during recess. Keely spoke out against the uniform policy. She says the school did not listen to her.

These children are dressed in uniforms. Many schools have a policy that tells kids what to wear.

KLAUS VEDFELT—GETTY IMAGES

Fighting for Change

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) helped Keely and two other students. In March 2016, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the school.

A judge gave his ruling on March 28, 2019. He said the school’s policy went against the U.S. Constitution. The school changed its policy. Girls can wear skirts, pants, or shorts. Keely’s 18 now. “I cried when I heard the news,” she told TIME for Kids. Erika Booth’s daughter was also involved in the lawsuit. Booth says her daughter “burst into happy tears,” too.

What should you do if something in your school seems unfair? “Get your parents involved,” says Booth’s daughter. “Talk to other kids. See if they agree with you.”

Keely has some advice, too: “Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe in.”