Liberal Democrat MPs have backed a campaign for “gender neutral school uniforms” in UK schools.
Seven of the party’s MPs, including deputy leader Jo Swinson, signed onto a motion in Parliament by Layla Moran MP backing the change.
The motion calls for “the adoption of a gender-neutral school uniform policy [that] creates an environment in which everyone is accepted and students are not labelled by the clothing they wear”, and “welcomes the growing trend toward gender-neutral uniform policies”.
Ms Moran MP told PinkNews: “Having a gender neutral uniform policy in schools would send a strong signal across the country that everyone is welcome and accepted at school, no matter their gender.
“This is about children having a choice about what clothes they wear without judgement. Many schools have some unisex clothing, but that rarely extend to allowing boys to wear skirts or skorts, even if girls are allowed to wear trousers, and that is discriminatory.
“150 schools across the UK are already doing this and now it has the backing of the Scottish government. It’s time the whole of the UK embraced this move and accept that children should not be unnecessarily labelled by their clothing.”
The gender neutral policy would give children the choice to wear the uniform they prefer irrespective of gender – for example, trousers or a skirt.
The MPs also called on the UK Government “to encourage all schools to introduce a non-prescriptive, gender-neutral school uniform policy”.
They were joined by two SNP MPs, Alan Brown and Alison Thewliss, and Conservative MP Peter Bottomley.
The Trousers For All campaign had pressed schools over gendered rules that forced girls to wear skirts, and LGBT-inclusive education group Educate & Celebrate has also backed calls for change.
Elly Barnes of Educate & Celebrate said: “At Educate & Celebrate we believe that sexism, homophobia, biphobia and transphobia all stem from our perceptions of gender from the get go. Therefore, if we eradicate the stereotypes associated with gender then we can eradicate the ‘isms’ and ‘ophia’s’.
“This is why we encourage and advocate for all educational establishments to work towards a gender-neutral model in all aspects of school life.
“We recommend that all schools adopt a gender-neutral uniform where schools simply specify which clothes their students can wear. We know that not all students identify with the binary or fall into gender stereotypes.
“The gender-neutral uniform allows for students to have a choice over what they wear. It is 2016; tradition does not mean it is right or we cannot make positive change.
“Young people and teachers achieve their full potential when they can be themselves, therefore we must stop this woeful discrimination now to avoid further trauma to our young people. Equality is the key to success.”