In keeping with stricter dress code policies, many Pinellas County high schools won’t allow cheerleaders to wear their traditional uniforms to class this school year.
Many high schools throughout the county have moved to a “modified dress code” this school year, prohibiting students from wearing sleeveless tops and short shorts or skirts during school hours. Cheerleaders, who often wear their uniforms to class on days when there are pep rallies or games, are no exception.
“I’ll be honest, I have at least 80 to 100 students that have come to me with positive comments about our new dress code. I’ve only had four or five with negative comments, said Bob Vicari, principal of Lakewood High School in St. Petersburg. “This is my fourth year as principal of this high school, and I had never heard any complaints about the uniform before; but we have a new dress code and that applies to all students.”
At Countryside High in Clearwater, members of the cheerleading team have been asked to cover their arms with jackets, and at Northeast High and Gibbs High in St. Petersburg, cheerleaders have to leave their short skirts at home and are only allowed to wear their sleeveless tops if they wear shirts under them.
At Boca Ciega High in Gulfport, cheerleaders can wear the uniforms during school hours if they wear clothes under them or a jacket over the tops. Cheerleaders at St. Petersburg High have multiple uniform skirts and will be allowed to wear a longer skirt during class with a jacket over their sleeveless tops.
The new dress codes don’t come from the school district, Pinellas County Schools spokeswoman Melanie Marquez Parra said in an email. Schools can add additional guidelines to their dress codes, as long as they meet the minimum requirements laid out in the Student Code of Conduct, she said. The school’s administration has the final say on dress code adherence.
The first football game of the season at Lakewood High is Friday, and cheerleaders will wear their uniform tops with T-shirts underneath and jeans or other school-appropriate pants to class, Vicari said.
“Obviously, they’re not wearing those skirts,” Vicari said.