Principal of Carlow school rejects claims girls were told not to wear tight clothing

Principal of Carlow school rejects claims girls were told not to wear tight clothing

"Young girls should not be made feel ashamed for their clothing choices in their school communities," said Labour’s education spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin.

The principal of a Carlow school has rejected claims that female students were told not to wear tight clothing.

Ray Murray, of Presentation College in Carlow, said that some of the comments on social media were “scandalous” and “damaging to staff”.

It was reported on Tuesday that female students were told not to wear tight leggings to school as it was “distracting”.

However, Mr Murray has said that students were not told that.

Speaking to RTÉ Radio 1’s Morning Ireland, he explained that when Covid restrictions came in, pupils who had PE came to school in their PE gear. 

He said that what had been noticed by staff was that “on PE day, when students were coming in, particularly the girls, the uniforms regulations weren’t being followed and it was becoming more of a fashion show, if you like, more than anything else”.

Mr Murray said the school is hugely oversubscribed and it “comes down to not just teaching and learning” but it comes down to the small things to make sure that everything is right.

The principal said there was a discussion with the deputy principals and the deans of discipline on how to approach the uniform issue.

“It was felt that the simplest way was just to talk to the girls, in a sense go through…a reminder of what the full school regulations are."

Mr Murray said the school is “annoyed” at the comments on social media, saying that they are “scandalous” and “damaging to staff”.

He said the male students weren’t spoken to as the issue “primarily was with the girls”.

He said the PE uniform was more and more not being worn properly by female students.

He again reiterated that there had been no changes to the school’s uniform policy.

The school reiterated in a statement yesterday that: “Students are regularly reminded of school rules and regulations at assembly.

“The school continues to look after the pastoral care needs of all students through its excellent pastoral care/student support systems in the school.

“Any queries in relation to the above from parents or students will be dealt with in the normal way through the usual school channels.” 

Mr Murray said that no remark was made about teachers feeling uncomfortable with the sight of girls in “tight clothes”.

He said “nothing inappropriate, wrong, or uncomfortable” was said.

He said he met with some individual students who were upset to discuss what was wrong.

“Most of them were telling me what they had heard was said in another assembly and I said look, don't tell me what was said in the other assembly, tell me what was said in your assembly and what were you upset about." 

Mr Murray said he took notes and asked them ”what they had heard or what they had understood to be said.

“I went back to the individual deans. I checked with them, I’ve asked a couple of deans to meet again with those girls who wanted to meet with them…and they clarified the issues for them.”

He added: “If a wrong message came through, obviously we do not want that to happen and I have an open-door policy for talking to the kids”.

He added that if there was an ethos of "body shaming girls" people wouldn’t come to the school and that he feels for the staff who have "taken the brunt of unsubstantiated rumour”.

“Over the weekend this broke up into what it is on social media and a petition was set up based on unsubstantiated facts,” he added.

It was reported that students felt “degraded” after being asked not to wear tight or revealing clothing.

A petition calling out “sexism against female students in the school” has been signed more than 8,000 times.

Sandy Haughney, whose daughter is a student at the school, said the girls were told that tight black tracksuit bottoms could not be worn “because it was showing off their hips and thighs” and they were “too tight and revealing”.

Ms Haughney told Newstalk Breakfast: “Look, the students have made it clear themselves – the key words they have used to describe how they feel are degraded, paranoid, violated, disgusted and unsafe.

“The children in this school have made it quite clear that they feel unsafe. The parents and the children need to be reassured that they are safe in school.” 

She also said the students had been told if they continued to talk about the matter they would receive slips, which means they could get detention.

Ms Haughney added she would “hate to think” that if something happened to her daughter “she would think it is her fault because of the way she dresses”.

Labour’s education spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin yesterday called on the school to apologise to the student body.

“I think the school has to apologise to the student body,” he said.

“I think what happened was extremely unfortunate.

“I think it goes to the heart of many conversations and debates that are happening about second-level education and the manner in which it is run.

“I think the statement made, by whoever made the statement, was particularly unfair to the students.” 

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