Leggings, tights debate sparking controversy in Marlow schools - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Leggings, tights debate sparking controversy in Marlow schools

MARLOW, Okla._ School district officials here are cracking down on their dress code policy after a number of reported bullying incidents.

Form-fitting pants, including leggings and tights, are the clothing items being called into question. A ban to tights was approved by the Marlow school board in June 2013, but the school is putting their foot down after a number of girls came forward about boys in the school making derogatory comments.

A meeting Wednesday afternoon, led by the high school principal and vice-principal to discuss the issue, quickly spawned a social media frenzy. 

"There's over 200 comments just on this one thread," says Lisa Elam, a parent with two girls in the district who resorted to Facebook when she heard the news.

She was outraged to hear the rumors circulating that all denim skinny jeans were banned.

"That's where I had the problem; that's where I got upset; because, 90 percent of their wardrobe is skinny jeans," says Elam. "That's the style."

The superintendent put those rumors to rest: "We did not tell them they couldn't wear skinny jeans," says George Coffman, superintendent of Marlow Public Schools.

What is prohibited, however, are popular bottoms known as leggings. School officials say girls need to take extra precautions if they so chose to wear those types of pants.  

"They just need to make sure they are appropriate and (wear) something to cover the back and the front," says Coffman.

That stipulation has infuriated many girls and even some guys at the school.

"For the most part the mainstream fashion trend is skinnier, tighter clothing," says Austin Strain, junior at Marlow High.

Strain started a petition against the school's demands and he's already collected nearly 50 signatures.

"Banning it is just ridiculous," says Strain. "It's uncalled for; and, frankly, kind of unfeasible."

Coffman understands why some might be upset over the rule, but he says it serves as protection for female students.

"Making sure that there isn't any inappropriate comments (or) any inappropriate suggestions," says Coffman.

Elam respects and appreciates the rule for leggings: "There's no reason to expose any body part that doesn't need to be exposed," says Elam.

Students who are opposed to the measure, Strain included, are not convinced.

"They should be allowed to wear what they want and express themselves so long as they are not pushing the limits of public indecency," says Strain.

At Wednesday's meeting with all high school girls, school officials also brought up a potential ban in the future to hair coloring, saying it is a possible distraction from other student's education. It has yet to be approved.

Strain says he is working to collect more signatures and hopes to speak in front of the school board at next month's meeting. 

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