A primary school in Ireland will from now on allow pupils to wear skirts or trousers to class, regardless of gender, after making the decision to switch to a gender-neutral uniform policy.
Management and parents of pupils at St Brigid’s National School, in Wicklow, south of Dublin, agreed to the changes after a proposal was put forward by the student council.
Part of the changes to school policy also includes taking down signs for boys’ and girls’ toilets, in a bid to make students feel more comfortable, welcome and accepted at the primary school.
The school’s principal, Maire Costello, said some children are questioning their sexual identities from an early age, and the new policy will go some way to making sure everyone has ‘a happy experience’ in school, The Irish Times reports.
Pupils will now be able to wear skirts or trousers to school, regardless of gender.
Principle Costello told the paper:
We have children who are questioning their sexual identity. It is happening at an earlier age. We want all our children to have a happy experience in school.
If that means girls wearing trousers or boys wearing skirts, so be it. The most important thing is that children should feel comfortable and happy over how they are dressed.
Until now, girls at the primary school wore a green tartan school pinafore, while boys were required to wear grey trousers and a green jumper. From September this year however, all pupils will be allowed to choose either of these options.
According to the principal, the reaction to the new uniform policy has been very positive, and the school’s student council made a strong case to the management board regarding the need for change.
I’m very proud of them. They did their research and surveyed pupils… they made the case to the board who were fully behind them.
The school will also be phasing out girls’ and boys’ toilets, replacing them with gender neutral ones instead.
Sara Phillips, chair of the Transgender Equality Network Ireland, praised the new policy, saying it is helping transgender children become more visible in schools, though there is still work to be done.
There is still a lot of work to be done in schools. There are some great schools – including Catholic ones – and some terrible ones… it takes leadership and a common sense, human rights-based approach to ensure that all children feel welcome.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.