Should children wear school uniforms? And if so should schools be more flexible in what they wear? In today’s society of gender fluid, trans, gay, hetro individuals why not let boys wear skirts and girls wear trousers? Many schools in the UK have faced recent backlash over the strict rules they enforced on school uniforms. Some were even sending children home if they break the rules; not allowing boys to wear shorts and all children having to keep their blazers on during the hot summer months.
Eighty state institutions, including 40 primary schools, have either removed reference to girls and boys in their dress codes or have rewritten their uniform policy. It is part of a drive, funded by the government, for schools to be more open to children who are questioning their gender identity.
Diversity campaigners have warned current policies risk discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pupils (LGBT).
A spokesperson for Stonewall told The Independent: ‘We welcome all efforts to support young people on trans and gender identity issues and ensure that they feel happy, welcome and accepted at school, and it’s encouraging to see this move.
“No trans person should be forced to present in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable. When this happens, it can be deeply damaging, particularly for young people.”
Headteacher Jamie Barry, introduced a gender-neutral school uniform policy at his Bristol primary school: “Why would we define our children by the clothes they wear? We still have the same uniform; we simply removed all references to gender in our uniform policy.”
Girls at Parson Street school already had the option to wear whatever the boys could wear, but Barry’s new policy enabled boys to wear skirts and dresses for the first time. The fact that not a single boy has chosen to do so in the year since the policy was introduced doesn’t matter to Barry. “For me, this was about creating a culture of acceptance. Children are not born homophobic or discriminatory, they are exposed to those influences as they grow up. At Parson Street, we believe children should grow up seeing and experiencing equality, before any stigmas are created.”
Nearly half of women (48%) and more than a third of men (36%) would strongly support schools adopting a gender-neutral uniform policy that allows both boys and girls to wear trousers and skirts, according to a recent YouGov survey of more than 3,400 UK adults. School policies that allow students of either sex to wear trousers but allow only girls – and not boys – to wear skirts, were less popular: only 32% of female and 33% of male respondents supported this approach above others.
Uniform policies that deny pupils any choices are the least popular: just one in 20 women and one in 10 men were in favour of policies that force girls to wear skirts and boys to wear trousers. Only 8% of male and 7% of female respondents wanted schools to get rid of skirts so that all children wear trousers.
Society as a whole is becoming more and more accepting and understanding, enforcing gender neutral policies, one size doesn’t fit all. But, are we focusing too much on sexual orientation? Should it not just be about if a boy wants to wear a skirt, why not? And if a girl wants to wear trousers’, why not?