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Top private school will let boys wear skirts under new gender-neutral uniform policy

Elena Cherubini May 15, 2017

A top London private school is introducing a new ‘gender-neutral’ uniform policy that will allow boys to wear skirts.

Highgate School, a fee-paying school in North London, decided to make the move to cater for transgender, non-binary and gender non-confirming kids.

The £6,790 per term secondary school will scrap rules which previously specified that students listed as ‘male’ must wear trousers, permitting them to choose a skirt instead.

(Flickr Matt Brown)

The current policy allows girls to wear trousers, jackets and ties but does not permit boys to wear the grey pleated skirt.

The new dress code will not be in any way linked to sex, and the options will be called ‘uniform number one’ and ‘uniform number two’ rather than male and female.

“This generation is really questioning being binary in the way we look at things,” headteacher Adam Pettitt said in an interview with The Times.

The decision has been harshly criticised by vocal anti-LGBT voices, prompting negative coverage from the Daily Mail and far-right outlet Breitbart – though similar gender-neutral policies have already been implemented in hundreds of schools without incident.

Mr Pettitt said: “[Some people] write in and say, if you left children to their own devices they would grow up differently and you are promoting the wrong ideas.”

But he dismissed the criticism, adding: “If [pupils can] feel happier and more secure in who they are, it must be a good thing.”

The teacher pointed to the growing number of young people who are coming out as trans or gender non-confirming, with a surge in youth referrals to Gender Identity Clinics in recent years.

He added: “This is happening predominantly in the sixth form but my guess is that that will change over time and I think primary schools will find parents coming and saying ‘My son does not want to be called Johnny any more’.

“We will need to become understanding of what is a sensible reaction to this at different ages.”

The new rules will also allow boys to wear earrings, in line with the policy for girls.

The school is already one of the most progressive on LGBT issues. It already has a gender-inclusive policy that allows trans pupils to go by their preferred name and pronouns.

Earlier this year a New Zealand school scrapped gendered uniforms after students challenged the fact that their woman principal could wear trousers.

Now the school will let students choose between shorts, long pants, culottes and a kilt.

By next year all New York City schools will be required to offer single-stalls bathrooms for transgender students.

More: Education, gender-neutral uniforms, Highgate School, London, London

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