Third-grade boys won’t have to wear women’s clothing as a class assignment: Maude Wilkins Elementary in Maple Shade Township, New Jersey has canceled the Women’s History Month fashion show. It was a “misunderstanding,” says the superintendent.
Teacher Tonya Uibel sent home a 16-page packet with suggested fashions such as “bellbottoms, poodle skirts and cheerleader outfits” and photos of Twiggy and Madonna. She explained the assignment was mandatory.
“If your child is a young man, he does not have to wear a dress or skirt, as there are many time periods where women wore jeans, pants and trousers. However, each child must be able to express what time period their outfit is from. Most of all, your child should have fun creating their outfit and learning about how women’s clothing has changed!”
Excluding the modern era, what are the many time periods in which women wore jeans, pants and trousers?
Creating an outfit isn’t fun for everyone. Janine Giandomenico said her son begged her not to make him dress as a woman. He was afraid of being ridiculed, which made his mother wonder why the fashion show was on the same day as the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s “Day of Silence.” Students are encouraged to remain mute “to call attention to verbal and physical abuse of gay students.”
The fashion show would have presented a challenge, even if the third-grade boys had claimed to be wearing “Rosie the Riveter jeans” or a “Hillary Clinton pantsuit.”
In a letter to parents, Principal Beth Narcia claimed boys weren’t asked to dress up as women.
There are many different time periods that had women and men dressing in pants, suits, and even sweat suits. Students were just asked to dress as a time period, not as a woman.
Dressing as a pants-wearing male in the early 21st century would have been earned an A, I assume, just like wearing a Madonna outfit from her wear-the-bra-outside period.
Instead of the fashion show, students will draw a picture of a person dressed in clothing from a specific time period as the end-of-unit project. So now the history assignment favors kids who can draw instead of kids who have mothers who can sew.
If kindergartners can analyze George Washington’s financial, class and racial values, surely third graders could learn something more substantive about women’s history than the fact that fashions change over time.