TAINAN, Taiwan - More than 1,600 students at National Tainan Girls' Senior High School took off their long pants and revealed the shorts underneath at the school assembly on Monday to protest against the school's new regulation banning students from wearing sports shorts.
The new regulation was suggested by a disciplinary teacher, surname Chen, who had just joined the school this term. She stopped students from wearing sports shorts outside physical education classes and required their sports jackets to be zipped up to the second buttons of their shirts. The new regulations were implemented before calling a meeting with the school representatives.
Some students found the implementation of the new uniform regulations a breach of the school rules and the spirit of a liberal and democratic school. They said the new regulation deprived them of their basic rights protected under the regulations of the Ministry of Education. They also claimed that they had requested a meeting with school officials but the school did not respond.
On Monday, a group of eight students called for a protest through text messages and a Web site. They students wore the approved uniform with long pants at the morning assembly.
However, after the flag ceremony and the official greetings, about 80 percent of the 2,000 students took off their outer long pants together, showing the sports shorts they wore inside. The action was publicly supported by some teachers and school graduates.
The school principal Tsou Chun-hsuan said at the assembly after the action that he "loves the school's shorts" and the school will respect and listen to the student's appeals. The school immediately called a meeting with the student representatives and decided to allow students the choice of wearing long or short pants in school.
Secretary of the school Joyce Wang told The China Post, "The principal knew about the protest beforehand but decided to have the assembly as normal, so that the students have a method to register their protest." The school had issued questionnaires on the uniform regulations. They will have further meeting with the students on March 30 to discuss whether the uniform regulations are out of date.
Lai Yu-mei, secretary general of Taiwan Gender Equity Education Association said, "It is sad that the students have to take such radical actions for the school to hear their voice. We had received complaints from students of many other schools that uniform regulations are rigid and unreasonable."
For example, in most schools in Taiwan, wearing a dress is still compulsory for female students, which Lai commented that it was against the Gender Equity Education Act. She said schools should allow students to decide their uniforms democratically.