Schools ban skirts for girl students to make uniforms gender-neutral and inclusive

In an 'inclusive' bid to cater to transgender pupils, at least 40 secondary schools in the UK have banned girls from wearing skirts and are going for 'gender-neutral' uniforms

                            Schools ban skirts for girl students to make uniforms gender-neutral and inclusive
(Source:Getty Images)

In an "inclusive" bid to cater to transgender pupils, at least 40 secondary schools in the UK have banned girls from wearing skirts, according to reports. It is being claimed that schools are now opting for "gender-neutral" uniform policies, which call for both boys and girls to wear trousers. Quite a few institutions are considering to make changes on similar lines. Priory School in Lewes, East Sussex, England, was the first to lead by example last September when it scrapped its female uniform, attributing the decision to "fears over the sexualization of young women."

In other related news, another renowned private school is looking to tend to its pupils, who feel anxious about their appearance, by bringing in makeup experts.

Another school in Ipswich, the Copleston High School, placed skirts on a list of "unacceptable items" and insisted on wearing "plain grey trousers" for its uniform. It is being claimed that with eight schools in Ipswich mandating the gender-neutral policy, the majority of students in the area is now attending trousers-only schools. 

The Sunday Times reported that in the meanwhile, Cranshaw Academy near Leeds is "consulting on implementing a gender-neutral uniform (trousers only)."

Girls commencing school this September will compulsorily have to wear trousers while existing students will be adopting the new policy from the next academic year, announced Phillips High School in Bury.

Quite a few parents are voicing their disapproval for the said changes in school policy, with one parent branding the move "crackers" and asserting there is nothing wrong with the children's current uniform.

As young girls start their 7th grade in the autumn term in Philips, they will be prohibited from wearing the current navy-knee length skirts worn by existing girl students.

The aforementioned parent, whose daughter Annabelle is currently in Year 8, Diane Burdaky, claimed that the school never discussed the changes in policy with parents.

"There was no letter or email. No word or consultation from the school at all.

"I looked on the website and there was a notice saying all new students from September will have to wear trousers and then the rest of the school will follow in September 2019.

"I'm all for a school uniform policy. I think it's very important that parents work with the school to make sure the rules adhered to.

"My problem is why this has happened. I can't think of any reason why girls shouldn't wear them. For years girls have rolled their skirts up as soon as they've left the house. We all used to do it.

"But you can't control what they do when they leave the house. It's up to the school to police it when they're there.

"I feel strongly that parents should have been consulted and given a valid explanation.

"It's good to give girls the option of wearing a skirt or trousers, but I don't understand the need for a total ban. I think it's crackers."

The head of Priory School, Tony Smith, said last year: "The reason for the uniform change initially is about equality and decency. 

"Our students will all now wear the same uniform. It is a much more decent uniform and it is far less likely to lead to abuse. 

"It is a gender neutral uniform, and we've thought carefully about that, ensuring that is was gender neutral. 

"We have transgender students in the school and we have an increasing number of students who are at that crossroads of understanding around their gender.

"So this uniform removes the need for anyone to make a decision about whether they wear a so-called male or female uniform."

That being said, students at Philips High have started a petition arguing that a ban on skirts is, in fact, "sexualizing" their bodies.

Female students at the institution said that wearing skirts made them feel more confident and that if the school made trousers compulsory, it could  “damage our mental health”.

The petition reads: “If any teacher believes seeing a child’s leg is in any way ‘too sexual’ they should be sacked immediately for gross misconduct.”

Naomi Wolf, a well-known feminist, also supports the children's argument, saying:  “I think that trousers-only for everyone is a silly way to go — unless you are going to also offer the option of skirts-only for everyone.

"I believe that if everyone is offered the option of both skirts and trousers, everyone can find his, her or their comfortable fit.”

Piers Morgan, the British journalist who is also a former pupil of the school, slammed the move by saying: "It's disappointing to see one of my old schools getting sucked into this gender neutrality nonsense, which is being driven by a tiny minority of people.

Let boys be boys and girls be girls, and stop confusing them in this ridiculous way."

The controversial move comes after Immanuel College in Hertfordshire, which charges over $24,000 a year, brought in make-up experts for its students in order to teach students how to apply and wear it. The college attributed the move to a 15-year-old pupil who reportedly revealed she wanted to learn how to use beauty products as she was suffering from anxiety over a skin condition.

The 570-pupil strong, co-educational institution also lifted a ban on make-up for students under the age of 16.

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Meaww