“Should high school girls, particularly students of Abraham Lincoln High School on Ocean Parkway . . . be permitted to wear slacks to class?”
The question was asked by the Brooklyn Daily Eagle in March 1942, in an article about 16-year-old Beverly Bernstein (below). Bernstein 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, in Brooklyn,in protest because a classmate, Beverly Bernstein, was suspended the day before for wearing slacks,” reads the caption on this Daily News/Getty Images photo.
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.”
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.
[Second photo: New York Daily News]