Should all schools adopt a gender-neutral uniform policy?
A gender-neutral school uniform policy has now been adopted in 120 schools across the UK, a charity that develops LGBT training in schools has revealed.
Dr Elly Barnes, founder of the charity Educate & Celebrate, told The Guardian that more than one hundred schools have signed up to its best-practice programme and hundreds more may have introduced a gender-neutral policy.
“In our experience, primary schools are adopting [the programme] faster than secondary schools,” she said.
“There doesn’t seem to be any type of school that’s more likely to take it up than any other, and no particular part of the country where there’s less or more take-up.”
Adopting a gender-neutral uniform policy might involve allowing both boys and girls to wear either skirts or trousers, or creating a unisex uniform for all.
The news follows the announcement at the weekend that a public school is considering scrapping separate boys’ and girls’ outfits and introducing a mix and match gender-neutral unform.
Highgate School, in London, announced that they are currently consulting pupils and their parents about the decision that would allow pupils to have the choice of wearing skirts or trousers.
The move comes as head teachers warn that they are dealing with growing numbers of children questioning their gender identity.
Adam Pettitt, head of the school told The Sunday Times that if being allowed to wear skirts meant some boys “feel happier and more secure in who they are, it must be a good thing”.
According to Susie Green, chief executive of Mermaids, a charity that works with children with gender identity issues and their parents, Highgate is just one of hundreds of schools implementing similar policies.
“It sends a very strong message of inclusion to students,” she told Huffington Post.
“The number of people this will affect may be relatively small, but from discussions with parents and young people we know that transgender children often have a difficult time when socially transitioning. It can be a nerve-wracking experience.”
“Knowing there is no gender conformity within the uniform and having an inclusive school environment, can help take the sting out of it.”
“For any pupils who are struggling, this sends out a strong message that we’re here for you and we support you,” she adds.
Introducing a gender-neutral uniform isn’t the only policy some schools are introducing. Last year the Girls’ Schools Association advised members to stop using the word ‘girls’ and ‘boys’ and instead address children as ‘pupils’ to avoid causing offence. And other schools, like Buxton School in Leytonstone, East London, have taken things a stage further and implemented gender neutral toilets.
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