School Officials In France Invite Boys To Wear Skirts On Friday To Protest Sexism

05/14/2014 03:40 pm 15:40:14 | Updated May 16, 2014

Girls may not be the only pupils sporting skirts to school on Friday.

As part of a demonstration against sexual discrimination, school officials in western France are encouraging both girls and boys to wear skirts to school on May 16, according to local reports. The day-long protest, dubbed "What the Skirt Lifts," seeks to combat sexism in French schools and change attitudes about equality in the country.

Though the idea for the day of skirts was conceived by students, the Academy of Nantes has voiced its support for the initiative and has invited students at 27 of its high schools to participate, according to a released statement. The campaign stems from a similar protest organized in France last year that also saw some male teachers participating.

However, unlike the 2013 demonstration, this year's day of action has sparked some criticism -- particularly from France's anti-gay marriage movement, which has called for the day to be canceled. After a poster for the "What the Skirt Lifts" protest was shared on social media, some chastised the school system for explicitly asking boys to wear skirts. Others went so far as to compare the day to Conchita Wurst, the Austrian singer who recently garnered international attention at the Eurovision Awards for a performance in drag.

"The Academy of Nantes did not ask boys to come in a skirt," a spokesperson for the local board of education clarified Wednesday to Agence France-Presse. Instead, the school board is inviting teens -- whether they're male or female -- to voluntarily take part in the demonstration.

Despite the school board's statement, a local family-oriented organization plans to stage a protest against "What the Skirt Lifts" on Friday.

The gender-bending campaign comes months after the country's Ministry of National Education released a report indicating that sexism is rampant in French schools. At the time, opponents of France's "gender theory" criticized the ministry's conclusion that boys receive preferential treatment and accused the government of forcing the notion that gender is a social construct on the national education system, the Telegraph reports.

Clarification: The original version of this article mistranslated the French name of the event "Ce que soulève la jupe" as "What Lifts the Skirt." It means, literally, "What the Skirt Lifts."

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