Using an antidiscrimination provision of the 1972 Education Amendments Acts, two Alexandria high school girls are trying to get out of their gym suits.
They want to wear what the boys wear.
Annabel Marshall and Gayla Penn, sophomores at George Washington High School, charge in a sex discrimination complaint filed with school officials that they are discriminated against because their one-piece suits cost more than the boys' two-piece suits and the suits have different styles.
"The guys' gym suits seem much better," said Marshall, 15. "The girls' suit stretches . . . eventually it stretches out of shape. The guys' suit is just the T-shirts and shorts. It's a lot easier to get on and off."
"It's very uncomfortable," Penn said of the girls' uniform . . . "Since classes are coed, at least, the gym suit should be the same style."
After the girls filed a written complaint last December, received an official response and participated in a formal hearing, school officials were apparently convinced.
"We feel there is a real need to go with one suit," said William P. Blair, director of physical education for Alexandria schools. He said school officials are trying to come up with a uniform that will be acceptable to both boys and girls.
Currently, the boys wear a two-piece dark blue gym uniform of a T-shirt and shorts, costing $4.25. The girls wear a one-piece, light-blue suit that costs $6.50. The girls step into their uniforms, which made of a stretchy fabric without button or zippers.
Blair said he is proposing that the boys and girls wear two-piece uniforms. Although he is still seeking student, parent, and teacher comments on the new gym suit, Blair said he is proposing that the new uniform have a red-and-white striped top and royal-blue shorts.
It has not been determined if the uniforms will cost the same for both boys and girls, he said.
Marshall and Penn said they decided to file the sex discrimination complaint after girls began participating on coed physical education classes.
Under Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, gym clases in secondary schools are coeducational, except for contract sports, such as football and boxing.
The girls said they noticed that the boys' gym suits seemed more comfortable, cheaper, and more attractive than the girls' uniform. Penn said she wouldn't wear her suit outside of gym class.
Blair said the girl's uniforms are more expensive than the boys' because the girls' suits are made of better quality material and are of a different style.
The girls' one-piece uniforms were selected about five years ago by students and teachers, according to Anne C. Thomas, a physical education teacher at George Washington.
"Some people think what we're doing is a bunch of nonsense," Marshall said. "But, it's not nonsense, It's valid concern."