Dress code crackdowns in Pinellas County mean cheerleaders can no longer wear their uniforms to classes on game day.
It's part of a broader tightening of standards -- keeping shoulders covered and skirts lower to the knees.
At Clearwater High School, Principal Keith Mastorides says they started a uniform-style dress code two years ago, and it's done wonders for morale and school pride.
We caught up with some seniors who said they've earned the right to sport their colors and wear their uniforms, but understand how they could be in violation of the county's dress code.
"On Fridays, it's like, game day, everybody wears their outfits, and we're pumped," said Alexis Fitzgerald, a senior at Clearwater High. "But now we don't get to wear, but it's still fun after school we get to show our spirit, we just wish we could during school."
"It's part of being a cheerleader, like you want to show it off," said Chelsey Chappellow, who is also a senior at Clearwater High. "You want to tell the school you're a varsity cheerleader, but when you don't have the uniforms, it's not as obvious."
"Maybe those uniforms are appropriate for that activity," said Melanie Marquez Parra, with Pinellas County Schools. "But that doesn't mean that they'll fit in with the students' dress code for that academic school day."
It turns out the uniform rules are anything but uniform. We checked around, and in Hillsborough County, they do not allow wearing uniforms from any sport to school, unless there's permission from a special event.
In Polk County, there is no district-wide policy. Each school decides its own rules.
"It's gonna depend on each school's uniform, but some areas of the dress code, to consider when you're looking at uniforms for other activities," said Marquez Parra. "Think about, wrestling, swimming, track, there's gonna be some uniforms that maybe don't quite fit in with dress code standards, so a dress code is going to require shorts of skirts to be of a certain length or maybe that shoulders are covered."
Principal Mastorides said in the last two years, since mandating their dress code early, the number of student incidents has dropped by nearly 50 percent.
"Well, I do think for school the skirts would be a little bit short and the tank tops with the shoulders showing, it's a little bit inappropriate, but if we have our long sleeve white shirts under it, it's not too bad," said Chappellow.
Some schools are actually finding creative ways for team members to sport their colors by coming-up with an appropriate outfit or special t-shirt that all the athletes can wear.
The cheerleaders also said their safety is built in to the design of their uniforms. If the tops were not sleeveless or the skirts were down to their knees, it would surely cause accidents on the field.
"With being a flyer, if I were to have a longer skirt, say to my knees, it could catch on someone's arms, it could hurt their wrists, it could hurt my legs," Chappellow said.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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