Female Montana Lawmakers Criticize ‘Discriminatory’ New Dress Code

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Some female lawmakers have criticized the Montana Legislature’s new dress code as unfair to women.

The new code, in addition to calling for women to wear suit pants, dresses or skirts, tells women to be “sensitive to skirt lengths and necklines,” according to Helena news station KXLH.

Montana House Minority Whip Jenny Eck (D) said that the Democratic caucus was not consulted about the dress code. She said she felt the dress code unfairly targets the way women dress.

“My big problem is that women are set aside for an admonishment in the document, basically telling us to mind our skirtlines and mind our necklines, and that feels very nineteenth-century to me,” she told KXLH.

Eck told the Helena Independent Record that the document was “discriminatory” and questioned how it would be enforced.

“Women can be trusted to get up in the morning and dress appropriately,” she said. “Would the sergeant of arms be the clothes police checking our skirt lengths and cleavage?”

Montana House Clerk Lindsey Grovum defended the dress code.

“It’s important to respect the institution, and that’s why we have some guidelines,” she told KXLH. “Honestly, I thought it was going to hit the men stronger because we’re eliminating jeans on Saturdays. I didn’t really see it as affecting women as much.”

Incoming House Speaker Austin Knudsen (R) said that the legislature drew up the new dress code after questions from new male and female lawmakers.

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