Cheerleaders in high schools from coast to coast are in danger of losing the privilege of wearing their uniforms to school on game days, as administrators crack down on dress-code violations.
In Lake County, Fla., cheerleaders with uniforms considered too skimpy are being asked to wear long shorts or pants under their miniskirts and a T-shirt under their sleeveless tops, according to the Orlando Sentinel. And principals at two of the county's eight high schools (Leesburg and Lake Minneola) aren't allowing the uniforms in school at all. The Florida High School Athletic Association bans cheerleaders from baring their midriffs, but no state rules address cheerleader miniskirts. Sheila Noone, a spokesperson for cheerleading uniform company Varsity Brands, told Sentinel reporter Erica Rodriguez that outfits haven't become more revealing over the last 10 years, adding that short skirts are necessary to help the girls jump and kick. "Cheerleading is athletic," she said. "There's a lot of jumping, so you won't want a knee-length skirt that might hamper a toe touch."
Most Lake County cheerleaders say they'll comply with school regulations, but not all of their parents are pleased. "They're now banning it like it's a something inappropriate or pornographic," Lisa Milligan, whose daughter cheers at Mount Dora High School, told the Sentinel. "If you're going to allow them to wear them to the game, then why not allow them to wear them to school?"
Meanwhile, in San Jose, Calif., cheerleaders at Piedmont Hills High were being forced last week by principal Traci Williams to cover up shorter new uniform skirts with sweatpants - in 95-degree temperatures. The school is overseeing a stricter dress code this year, one that yanks inappropriately dressed students out of class and sequesters them until parents can arrive with a change of clothes. "This is really unfair to us," senior cheerleader Antonia Bavilacqua, who is leading the vocal charge to change the principal's mind, told the San Jose Mercury News. She also shared a photo of cheerleading squad members in their uniforms with online media outlets. "We're just sad and hurt. It's our school colors and spirit. And they're making us feel like outcasts."
Williams defended her initial decision by stating that "cheeks are hanging out. We don't want [the cheerleaders] bending over." But the principal, after meeting with cheerleaders, ditched the sweats mandate and decided to allow the girls to wear their uniform tops with jeans. The San Jose Unified School District, notes Mercury News columnist Scott Herhold, allows cheerleaders to wear uniforms in class as long as they wear bike shorts or something similar underneath their skirts.