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Education

All school uniforms in Wales to be made gender neutral

Nick Duffy July 10, 2019
School uniforms on display.

School uniforms on display. File photo. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty)

Schools in Wales have been instructed to make uniforms gender neutral by new statutory government guidance.

The Welsh government’s new uniforms guidance, which will come into force at the start of the new academic year in September, states that schools should not have different uniform requirements for boys and girls.

Where gendered school uniforms exist currently, the new guidance would give all pupils a choice over which uniform items to wear, rather than stipulating that girls must wear skirts or boys must wear trousers.

Let students pick which school uniform to wear, guidance says

The new guidance, published on Wednesday (July 10), directs: “A governing body will state the composition of its school uniform and ensure an inclusive school uniform policy that does not discriminate on the basis of sex or gender identity.

“A gender neutral school uniform policy may list items of clothing which are permitted to be worn in school, without any requirements for items of clothing to only be worn by students of a certain gender.”

It also warns that “failure to allow a pupil to wear uniform that reflects their gender identity may constitute discrimination on the basis of gender reassignment under the Equality Act.”

The policy includes an exception for religious schools, explaining: “One ground for justification might be that a certain religion lays down different dress and appearance codes for different sexes.”

Uniform policies should not dictate items of clothing based on gender.

Minister for Education Kirsty Williams, a Liberal Democrat, said: “We should not be enforcing outdated ideas of what clothes are suitable for their gender, especially if it makes them wear something they feel uncomfortable wearing.

“This new guidance makes clear that school uniform policies should not dictate items of clothing based on gender.”

The change comes as schools in Wales prepare for a new LGBT-inclusive relationships and sexuality education curriculum.

Liberal Democrats want to extend gender-neutral school uniforms across UK

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, who has campaigned for reforms previously, called for the uniform policy to be extended across the UK.

She told PinkNews in a release: “It is great news that children in Wales will be able to wear affordable, gender neutral school uniforms.

“I am proud of the role my colleague Liberal Democrat Welsh Education Minister Kirsty Williams has played in securing this progressive change.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Kirsty Williams pushed through the new school uniforms policy
Welsh Liberal Democrat Kirsty Williams pushed through the new school uniforms policy (Matthew Horwood/Getty)

“The Conservative government must now take this step into the twenty-first century. Dictating what children wear because of their gender is outdated and harmful.

“It is time to support all children to wear what they are happy, confident and comfortable in.

“The Conservatives must act to roll out gender neutral school uniforms and help facilitate a culture of acceptance in all our schools.”

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