The end of the school skirt? More schools are considering banning skirts in a bid to be more gender-neutral

Could this be the end of the school skirt? [Photo: Getty]

Schools across the UK are introducing bans on skirts in an effort to introduce more gender-neutral school uniform policies.

According to the Sunday Times, uniform policies have revealed that at least 40 secondary schools in England have already stopped girls from wearing skirts, while a number of other schools are consulting on introducing a ban, the newspaper found.

Priory School in Lewes, East Sussex banned skirts last year in order to introduce a more gender-neutral uniform. 

Headteacher Tony Smith said the measures were brought in to address short skirt complaints as well as to assist transgender students in their transition.

“This uniform has been designed specifically in response to the many issues and suggestions raised by parents, students and school staff,” the school site reads.

“Specifically, it addresses the current issues of inequality and decency. We hope that it will provide a smart, comfortable and affordable alternative to the current uniform.

“The new update consists of shirt, tie, school jumper and trousers. This is a gender-neutral uniform to be worn by all students.”

Copleston High School, in Ipswich, has put skirts on a list of unacceptable items alongside “skinny jeans and facial piercings”.

While Woodhey High School, in Bury, has also introduced a no-skirt uniform policy. Here pupils are required to wear plain grey trousers (No skirts, tight trousers and no jeans or look-a-like jeans).

The move comes as schools across the nation are slowly beginning to adopt more gender-neutral policies in an attempt to protect transgender pupils from discrimination.

Could this be the end of the school skirt? [Photo: Getty]

But not all parents and pupils are happy about the proposed changes with some planning to fight the ban on skirts.

Pupils at Philips High School, in Bury, which is planning to make wearing trousers compulsory for both boys and girls next year, have gathered hundreds of signatures on a petition on Change.org.

In a statement on the petition they argue that they “feel more confident wearing a skirt and school trousers are unflattering.”

“Self-esteem issues are on the rise among teenagers, so making us unable to wear clothes we feel our best in will damage our mental health, and in turn our school performance,” the petition reads.

“In addition, it is believed that skirts are being banned because the school has concern over the length of pupils’ skirts,” the petition continues.

“It is grossly inappropriate for staff members to sexualise and police the bodies of children in their care.

“There is nothing offensive about a child’s knee and lower thigh. If any teacher believes seeing a child’s leg is in any way ‘too sexual’ they should be sacked immediately for gross misconduct.”

Feminist, Naomi Wolf, also supports the argument against banning skirts, 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.”

But transgender organisation Mermaids UK has previously spoken out in favour of proposed uniform changes, calling it “a clear message of acceptance.” 

Chief executive Susie Green said “adding gender neutral uniforms is one of many simple ways that schools can help any pupils struggling with their gender in any way.”

“Schools need to take a clear line to accept and embrace all diversity, no matter how small the numbers affected.”

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