Nantes education authorities have launched a 'Lift the Skirt' campaign to support gender equality. Under the campaign, male students and teachers of 27 public schools are invited to wear skirts on May 16, sparking controversy in the western French city.
The idea to swap trousers for skirts in a stand against sexism originated from pupils themselves, and was sanctioned by the city's school authorities and therefore by the Ministry of Education, the Local reported.
Those who prefer not to bare their legs have the option of wearing a sticker which says, “I am fighting against sexism, are you?”
— GaëlleMaTaTa (@gaellematata) May 14, 2014
Although the campaign was staged in 20 schools last year, the anti-sexism initiative has caused a stir on social media and among local Nantes groups which are planning a protest on 'Lift the Skirt,' or 'Ce que soulève la jupe' day.
French political activist Frigide Barjot, known for her stance against same-sex marriage and LGBT adoption, shared the campaign's press release on twitter and asked the country's minister for education, Benoit Hamon, if girls should be wearing beards.
.@benoithamon le 16/05, l'académie de Nantes invitent les garçons à porter une jupe ou se maquiller. Et les filles, elles portent une barbe?
— Frigide Barjot (@FrigideBarjot) May 14, 2014
“We’ll do any old nonsense in the name of equality,” Olivier Vial, president of the conservative UNI party, said. “This move is inspired by the Day of the Skirt, whose original aim was to allow women to express their femininity in environments where it was often difficult. But this is just denying feminine and masculine identity.”
The news comes just days after Thomas Neuwirth, a singer from Austria, won the Eurovision song contest while performing as bearded drag queen Conchita Wurst.
Earlier this year, France was involved in an education brawl over the teaching of gender theory. Almost half the country's pupils were absent from primary schools in January after hoax text messages were sent to parents warning that there were plans to teach children how to masturbate. Pretending to have been sent by the Equality and Reconciliation Association, the messages referred to the 'ABCD of Equality in School' initiative.