What a strange group of events in the news this week….This morning in the news a boy named Skylar Davis, age 13, was suspended from school for carrying a colorful purse to school. A purse. IN the age of school shootings and kids carrying guns to schools, its nice to see some educators would rather focuis their energy on more pressing matters such as what accessories a boy chooses to bring to school.
Per ABC News…”Skylar Davis, an eighth-grader at Anderson County Junior/Senior High School in Garnett, said he was called into Principal Don Hillard’s office Wednesday and told to take off the purse he has worn to school every day since the start of the school year, KCTV, Kansas City, Mo., reported Friday. ‘I was told to go put it up, and I went to the office, and they told me that I had to. I refused to take it off and they suspended me,’ Davis said. Leslie Willis, Skylar’s mother, said she checked the school’s student handbook and it makes no mention of rules regarding bags and purses.” The news article wet on to state that Skylar was told he could not return to school until he complied with the principals request.
It will be interesting to see how this story unfolds. Will the ACLU get involved? Will Skylar’s absences from school be unexcused even though he is not technically breaking any school rules? Will he or wont he return without the purse for the sake of education? Obviously I don’t want Skylar to be hung up as a martyr for gender rights. He is 13. HE needs an education. As much I would love to see him take on the school and file suit or appeal to the school board. That said I think itd also be just as effective to go to a new school that will welcome his spirit (I mean at this point I cant imagine he has a strong desire to return to this school) . I DO however think ADULTS should band together not only for this boys sake but for the sake of all kids whom the school could randomly choose to send home. Pink hair? I”m sorry you have to leave. Punk shirt? Nope not allowed. You look “goth”? Go home. The possibilities for allowing them to have their way on this unfortunately are more numerous than just sending Skylar home for wearing a handbag.
I appeal not only to the parents of Skylar but parents of all the students at the school, the PTA & the teachers to speak out. Organize a “Purse In” and have everyone wear purses to school one day. Its unlikely the school wants to lose any student or send all of them home. In my experience, hitting school in the pocketbook (no pun intended) seems to be the most effective thing. When all is said and done it is doubtful they are willing to pay a few thousands dollars in lost revenue (per pupil) for that handbag.
The larger question to ponder is, what’s so bad about perceived female-ness? Women have worn pants for decades and no one blinks an eyes. Men in many cultures wear all sorts of clothing items that are skirt like. Yet in our “modern day” society, there are people that find it an offense for a man to be “womanly.” Men and traits associated with them have always been treated as the norm in our society. It wasn’t until the past decade or two that more focus has been put on women in medicine trials, equal pay for women in “men’s” job fields, women in combat, etc. There should not be a need to for “equal” pay but there is because society at large perceives men as the standard by which we measure things. Being a woman or having items associated with being a woman are not things to be ashamed of nor should it be tolerated for a government institution to propagate this idea. TO do so has implications far beyond this one event. This is not meant to take away from the events mentioned but to give background to the greater picture.