By Laura Zuckerman
SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - An Idaho high school is requiring its cheerleaders to wear leggings or sweatpants under their uniforms after finding the short skirts were not suited for stairs or sitting without exposing the buttocks of teen girls, an administrator said on Thursday.
The decision by the school district in the northern Idaho city of Post Falls to seek more modesty for cheerleaders came after teachers at the high school reported some girls’ bottoms were sometimes visible when uniforms were worn to class on the day of football games or other sports matches, said Dena Naccarato, director of programs and instruction.
A long-standing policy in the district’s dress codes requires skirts no shorter than mid-thigh but that had not been strictly applied to cheerleaders in past because no incidents raising the issue had occurred, she said.
That tradition changed this year amid reports of exposures at the high school.
"We can’t have anatomy showing," Naccarato said.
The dress code directive has displeased some cheerleaders but has been supported by many parents who, like administrators, believe a degree of decorum is required in a learning environment, she said.
Post Falls is not alone in establishing sartorial standards for its cheerleading squads. Neighboring school districts in Lakeland and Coeur d’Alene have in recent years ordered leggings or athletic pants be paired with abbreviated cheerleading skirts when worn to school.
None of the three districts require leggings or sweatpants while the cheerleaders are performing.
A debate in Idaho about female student attire led the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union in May to issue a warning to schools that requiring girls to wear dresses or skirts to graduation could be discriminatory.
The ACLU-Idaho letter citing likely impingements on constitutional guarantees of equal treatment and non-discrimination came after several Idaho school systems banned graduating girls from wearing slacks during commencement ceremonies.
(Reporting by Laura Zuckerman; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Bill Trott)