After a controversy was recently reported at a secondary school in Co. Carlow, claiming that female students were banned from wearing tight clothing, such as leggings, during PE classes, due to them making teachers feel “uncomfortable,” the principal of this school has now come out to deny these claims.
Ray Murray, the principal at Presentation College Carlow, explains that PE day was becoming more like a “fashion show,” when speaking to Morning Ireland on Wednesday.
Murray explains that while the school PE uniform hasn’t changed — a navy polo shirt, a half-zip top, and tracksuit bottoms coloured either navy or black — students are now coming into school in their PE gear to avoid using the changing rooms during the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, Murray notes that over recent months, students have started to disregard the rules and, “it was becoming more of a fashion show, more than anything else.”
“Instead of tracksuit bottoms, a variety of garments are being worn, more so leggings. It was not an issue with the boys, and it was just a discussion with the girls,” Murray explains.
A decision was made between the principal, the deputy principal and the deans of discipline, who decided to address female students and remind them of the uniform rules.
“We’re restricted here in terms of space, in terms of meeting with students. To have that conversation highlighting maybe the incorrect wearing of the tracksuit bottoms, and people wearing leggings, to be doing that in front of a class of girls and boys, we didn’t want to be embarrassing anybody either.”
It has been reported that the female students were taken out of class last Friday morning, and given a talk saying that they can’t wear tight clothing during PE lessons, as it showed off too much of their anatomy, and made staff members feel uncomfortable.
However, Ray Murray denies these claims, saying that no such comments were made by his staff members, regarding them feeling “uncomfortable”.
“I feel for our staff here who have taken the brunt of unsubstantiated rumour and slanderous stuff on social media. It’s a disgrace,” Murray said.
“We have female deans of discipline who are mothers themselves, many of them have daughters, who were talking to girls and I know that there was nothing inappropriate, wrong, uncomfortable, that was said to them.”
Following these talks with the female students, a survey was pinned up in the girls’ changing room, asking them how they felt afterwards. According to the Carlow Nationalist, words such as “uncomfortable, degraded, paranoid, violated, disgusted and unsafe” were highlighted by students.
However, Murray insists, “The only thing mentioned was telling the students to make sure you have a proper uniform on you so that it doesn’t lead to any uncomfortable conversations in relation to your uniform.”
“If a wrong message came through there from some of the assemblies or hearing it, you know, obviously, we don’t want that to happen. And that’s why I have an open-door policy here in terms of talking to the kids.”