School bans skirts to go gender-neutral
A secondary school has made its uniform gender-neutral.
Priory School in the south of England made the move, which involves banning skirts, to be more inclusive of its transgender students.
And Headteacher Tony Smith said his inspiration for the decision, still a radical act in 2017, came from the children.
“Pupils have been saying: ‘Why do boys have to wear ties and girls don’t, and girls have different uniform to boys?'” he told the Mail Online.
“So we decided to have the same uniform for everybody from Year 7.”
He added that this simple but symbolic change would make a huge difference to trans pupils who go to the school in Lewes, Sussex.
Smith said that Priory has “a small but increasing number of transgender students, and therefore having the same uniform is important for them.”
Speaking to PinkNews, he added: “We wanted a uniform for everyone.
“It could have been skirts for everyone, but we wanted to go with a uniform that was easy to source and supply, and that’s not easy for boys’ cuts.”
He pointed out that in the summer, it is now possible for students of all genders to wear shorts or skorts (a combination of shorts and a skirt).
“We wanted a uniform which promotes greater equality,” Smith explained, adding “a number” of trans students welcomed the move when it was announced.
“We’ve done this for positive reasons. For us, it is a greater equality having the same for everybody.”
The school’s website explains that “there is no expectation for current students to adopt the updated uniform,” but they are allowed to if they wish.
Some parents expressed disgust with the decision, which stops girls from wearing skirts.
One mother of a student said: “If girls dressing differently than boys is now to be considered sexist, then it is equally sexist to have female teachers wearing skirts and not wearing ties.
“If they want this, they must live the values they force on others and go fully gender free. My daughter and her friends are appalled by this.”
However, another mother was in favour of the move.
“I’m not in favour of uniform at all, but if you’re going to have a uniform I think it is great it’s gender-neutral,” she said.
“I know other parents feel it’s a boys uniform that has been imposed on girls and a real gender-neutral uniform would have [a] choice. But I personally don’t mind.”
In May, a private school which charges more than £20,000 a year announced it was introducing a new gender-neutral uniform policy that allowed boys to wear skirts.
The new dress code at Highgate School in North London will not be in any way linked to sex.
The options will be called “uniform number one” and “uniform number two,” rather than “male” and “female.”
And in June, a group of teenage boys in the UK donned skirts to protest a discriminatory uniform policy during some of the hottest temperatures in decades.
30 boys at Icsa academy in Devon made the move to highlight that they are banned from wearing shorts, even in hot weather.
The Priory School has been contacted for comment.