As schools try to attempt to be more inclusive of transgender pupils, the traditional school skirt could be on the way out.
Dozens of schools across the UK are now reportedly implementing a trousers-only policy in order to ensure a more gender neutral uniform code.
Boys wear skirts in protest at ban on shorts at Ferndown Middle School. Head teacher says the boys are “quite within their rights to wear skirts for the remainder of the term”. ? pic.twitter.com/pZNZCbdCTa
— Flint Bedrock (@flintbedrock) June 28, 2018
According to The Times, at least 40 secondary schools have already put a stop to girls wearing skirts.
Priory School in Lewes, East Sussex prohibited skirts back in 2017 after students queried why the uniform differed for boys and girls. Another reason was to consider the needs of transgender students.
According to The Telegraph, Priory School headteacher Tony Smith said:
Pupils have been saying why do boys have to wear ties and girls don’t, and girls have different uniform to boys,
So we decided to have the same uniform for everybody from Year 7.
Another issue was that we have a small but increasing number of transgender students and therefore having the same uniform is important for them.
Mr Smith added:
We know the current uniform is not necessarily worn as respectfully as it should be.
There were problems with decency and a number of issues raised by people in the community about how students were wearing uniform.
Other schools, such as Crawshaw Academy, near Leeds, are reportedly currently consulting on a similar ban. The issue of gender neutral uniforms has sparked heated debate on social media.
One person tweeted:
Gendered school uniforms are archaic full stop.
Ironically the only time I voluntarily wore a skirt was my 5 yrs of secondary school due to having an overwhelming fear of being mistaken for a boy.
It makes me sad I was so afraid of that because now it happens daily and it’s fine!
Another person said:
I don’t understand how banning one item means you’re making uniform gender neutral. Have trousers and skirts on the uniform list.
Don’t specify which gender wears what. Let them choose what they want to wear. THAT’S a real gender neutral uniform policy!
Make school skirts with built in cycle shorts if you worry about knickers showing and let all kids choose. Totally against #skirtban. Trousers are really not comfortable or flattering on many female bodies. We don't need #genderneutral uniforms. We need gender neutral attitudes.
— Belinda Goldman (@BelofMuswell) July 1, 2018
Gendered school uniforms are archaic full stop. Ironically the only time I voluntarily wore a skirt was my 5 yrs of secondary school due to having an overwhelming fear of being mistaken for a boy. It makes me sad I was so afraid of that because now it happens daily and it’s fine!
— Grace Petrie 100% Official Tweets (@gracepetrie) July 1, 2018
nope. Miss14 just hates skirts … always has. kids should have gender neutral uniforms that encourage activity and discourage teachers from snap criticisms based on gender “norms”.
— notblockedbyWil TraceyLee (@traceyb65) July 1, 2018
I don't understand how banning one item means you're making uniform gender neutral. Have trousers and skirts on the uniform list. Don't specify which gender wears what. Let them choose what they want to wear. THAT'S a real gender neutral uniform policy! #genderneutral https://t.co/urEPiq2BkQ
— Naureen Khalid (@5Naureen) July 1, 2018
So glad that shorts were included when our school brought in gender neutral uniform. #cool pupils#here comes the sun ☀️
— Julia Phillips-Lewis (@juliaphillipsl1) June 28, 2018
The idea of gender neutral school uniforms is also something which has become a hot topic in Japan, where some schools are hoping to create a more supportive environment for transgender pupils.
Kashiwanoha Junior High School, a new school close to Tokyo, has relaxed its uniform policies to allow those of any gender to choose between skirts or slacks and to accessorise their uniforms with ties or ribbons.
Head of nonprofit organisation LGBTQ organisation FRENS, Anri Ishizaki, explained the benefits this policy could have for transgender individuals to Kyodo News:
Some students are embarrassed and cannot concentrate on their studies because of uniforms. In some cases, they stop going to school,
Although uniforms are not the only factors tormenting them, it is a significant element as they are required to wear them all the time.
More schools are opting for gender-neutral uniforms. My thoughts on Sky News this morning. pic.twitter.com/CFiCFmTTeo
— Andrew Doyle (@andrewdoyle_com) July 1, 2018
Gender neutral uniform is misnomer. It’s the boys’ uniform and means girls required to dress like boys, striping them of their identity. Never thought women’s movement wd have to campaign to #savetheskirt https://t.co/rnEhEf03NN
— Rosemary Bennett (@RosieDBennett) July 1, 2018
Do you believe implementing a gender neutral uniform is an effective way to support young people who identify as transgender?
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.