Update: Skirt-Wearing Boy Nominated for Human Rights Award

Last May, 12-year-old Chris Whitehead came up with a creative way to protest his school’s dress code. The British student objected to being barred from wearing shorts on hot days. He studied the uniform policy and found a loophole: skirts were allowed.

“In the summer girl students are allowed to wear skirts but boys are not allowed to wear shorts,” Whitehead explained. “We think that this discriminates against boys. I will march in a skirt with other boys waving banners and making a lot of noise.”

The boy donned his sister’s skirt, created banners and enlisted friends to demonstrate at Impington Village College near Cambridge. The protest led the school to review its uniform policy. Instead of landing in a heap of trouble, he was praised for embodying much of what the school tries to teach about independent thought and personal action.

Six months later, Whitehead was shortlisted for the Human Rights Young Person of the Year award at the Liberty Human Rights Awards. Interviewed by the Cambridge News, Whitehead said, “I am sure there will be other people there who are also very worthy of awards and I am looking forward to meeting them.”

The other three candidates were an impressive lot:

Cerie Bullivant, for campaigning against control orders and the proposed Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Bill; activist, journalist and campaigner Zin Derfoufi; and Abigail Stepnitz, national co-ordinator for the Poppy Project, for standing up for the rights of trafficked women.

Bullivant won the award, but Chris Whitehead was still a winner. He demonstrated backbone and creativity in addressing an issue peacefully. That bodes well for the contribution he will make to the world.

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Photo from pinkladybug via morgueFile

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Beth M.
Beth M.3 years ago

We will hear alot more from Chris!

Howard C.
.3 years ago

Good for him - he is clearly a clever lad. Regarding the poll - peaceful protest is always acceptable and the right to peacefully protest should be protected.

Ann G.
Ann G.3 years ago

Haha this is awesome... way to go Chris!

Nicola Thomasson
Nicola Thomasson3 years ago

That... is just really genius! Bright kid, that.

Nicole G.
Nicole Gorman4 years ago


K s Goh
KS Goh4 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Norma V.
Norma Villarreal4 years ago

Congratulations to the young man for his creativity, peaceful protest, and to the school who supported his actions.

lindsay sievewright

Good on him for being so brave. And good on the school for their reaction.
Glenn B - Although Scotland´s national dress for men is the kilt, assuming a school in England is going to be populated by Scottish kilt wearers is NOT realistic. Contrary to what you may think it is unusual to see a man in a kilt outside of weddings and other celebrations. Also Scotland has it´s own education system.

Marie W.
Marie W.4 years ago

WOW, a school that teachs about independent thought and personal action.

Fred Krohn
Fred Krohn4 years ago

Did this young man do this before or after learning about Mahatma Ghandi in International History class? He should become the local symbol of the effectiveness of nondisruptive peaceful protest and improve the education level in his school. In my own schools, I never had to put up with uniforms and the dress codes just specified 'intact clothing' and 'no use of underwear items as outerwear', most guys wore jeans (or jeans shorts in the late spring and early fall) and coloured or pocket tee shirts (white tees were considered 'underwear items') or rugby or polo shirts while the girls wore skirts or dresses or something similar to what us guys wore. It wasn't until I was older and in the Navy that saw things like kilts and other alternative clothing styles in men, but I adapted easily and had less problems there (Holy Loch Scotland) than many of my fellow submarine crew on liberty. So long as the people aren't actually flashing, let 'em wear what they want, is how I think nowadays, and even that's irrelevant in a nudist camp.