Students Protesting the High School Dress Code That Banned Slacks for Girls in Brooklyn, New York City, 1942

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This vintage photograph shows students protesting the high school dress code that banned slacks for girls in Brooklyn back in 1942. It illustrated a question in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle magazine on March 26 1942. As war raged around the globe, readers were invited to consider the burning question: “Should high school girls, particularly students of Abraham Lincoln High School on Ocean Parkway… be permitted to wear slacks to class?”

Girls show up in slacks at Abraham Lincoln High School, Brooklyn, in protest because a classmate, Beverly Bernstein, was suspended the day before for wearing slacks. Left to right: Roslyn Goldberg, Esther Cohen, Marian Hartman, Maryln Bodkin, Eleanor Groper. (Photo by Ben Sandhaus/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

The article featured 16-year-old pupil Beverly Bernstein, who was suspended from Lincoln for showing up to class wearing blue gabardine slacks.

“She wore them to school, along with a lipstick-red sweater,” the Eagle wrote, explaining that she was then sent to the office of the dean of girls, who apparently issued the suspension.

Outraged classmates showed their support by coming to school the next day in pants.

“Girls show up in slacks at Abraham Lincoln High School, Brooklyn, in protest because a classmate, Beverly Bernstein, was suspended the day before for wearing slacks,” reads the caption on the photo above.

These rule-breaking wartime students also circulated a petition, stating that girls should be allowed to wear pants because “they are better than skirts in the event of an air raid” and to “conserve silk stockings.”

Beverly Bernstein (Photo: New York Daily News)

Boys signed the petition as well, according to the Eagle.

The next day, the Eagle reported that Lincoln’s longtime principal decided that although he disapproved of slacks on girls, “if the girls wear them, we won’t get excited about it.”

This wasn’t the only Brooklyn high school student protest. In 1950, thousands of students across the borough walked out of class to support teacher pay raises.

Like Midwood and Madison, Lincoln is one of those legendary Brooklyn high schools with an impressive roster of graduates since opening in 1930—including Arthur Miller, Joseph Heller, Mel Brooks, and Neil Diamond.

(via Ephemeral New York)

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